Susan Allen Nan
Director of the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
A: Well, the conflict between the Abkhaz and the Georgians was a pretty serious war, a lot of people died and a lot of people were displaced from their homes. And the conflict resolution process has been ongoing since before the cease-fire and during the cease-fire and continuing on to today with an official political level process that brings together the political leadership of the Abkhaz and the Georgians but that's not all there is to the peace process. There are a whole lot of other civil society-based initiatives that together are creating an overall peace process. There have been some attempts to bring together some influentials from both sides of the conflict to do some creative brainstorming, to do some thinking in an unofficial environment, and there have been a series of workshops that were put together, perhaps academics from both sides or politicians who aren't of a very senior level, not part of the official negotiations and one workshop that brought together people from the official negotiations.
Q: Who convened those?
A: There are a variety of actors, at one point I think I tried to count up how many different international intermediaries had worked on that conflict and I think I came up with 30.
Q: OK so now this isn't one group that's convening all these different factions.
A: No, no, it's really a situation where Pamela Aall at USIP has talked about herding cats, trying to get all mediators into one area and working together is like herding cats and they are running different which ways um, luckily in this situation there are all these other cats running around, where all these intermediaries over the course of 10 years that there have been initiatives going on. Paula Garb at the University of California-Irvine has done some really good work putting together a lot of the intervenors for some coordination meetings and people have been able to talk to each other about what kind of work they're doing, what their plans are for the near future, and how they can build on each other's work best.
Q: That's in Abkhazia?
A: She brought people together in areas close to Abkhazia, not actually in Abkhazia but perhaps she's done that as well, different meetings different places. One in particular I recall was in Moscow.
A: So this idea of bringing together all the intermediaries is difficult to achieve because there's not usually funding for simply coordinating, and you don't see any real direct outcome on oh, all of a sudden there's peace because these people got together and talked about how their work relates to each other's work. I do really think it has strengthened the peace process to have different intermediaries and the parties to be able to talk about how these different pieces of peace are fitting together and how the different initiatives together build a stronger peace process that's greater than the sum of the parts.