Third Siders

William Ury describes his concept of "the third side."

William Ury says the third side is "the key evolutionary mechanism," which exists in every culture to allow it to survive. Without all the roles of the third side, we'd tear ourselves apart, he says.
William Ury the third side inventor says, the third side is like an immune system against violence.
William Ury explains that mediation is only one "tool" in a peacebuilder's toolbox. There are many more that are needed as well: teachers, bridge-builders, healers, referees, witnesses-all of the third side roles must work together to prevent violence and bring about conflict transformation.
William Ury explains that the third side is a self-organizing social movement that works at all levels of the society from the grassroots to the elite. Outsiders can help get the movement started and can give it support, but basically the work is done from within.
William Ury says the third side recognizes and respects all the other sides. It is "a container for creative contention" that allows for the transformation of the conflict.
William Ury cautiuons the third side can help prevent violence, but it does not resolve the conflict. Rather it provides a "container" in which the "lead of destructive conflict" is turned into the "gold of constructive confrontation."
William Ury explains how outsiders can facilitate the development and coordination of many different third-sider roles. This he calls "meta mediation."
William Ury says the biggest obstacle to implementing the third side approach, is awakening it, getting everyone to realize that they have an important role to play and that they can and should make a difference in the world around them.

Ury on the Third Side in Venezuela.

William Ury begins explaining his role in trying to prevent a civil war in Venezuela, where the country is extremely polarized between those who support the president and those who oppose him. Before Ury came in and introduced his notion of "the third side," there was no room for neutrals-people were forced to take a side.
William Ury describes how they worked at all levels of society to nurture a third-side movement in Venezuela.
William Ury describes how Venezuelan third siders are using performing art to bring people together across divides.
William Ury discusses the lessons he has learned so far implementing a third side approach in Venezuela.

Implementing the Third Side Elsewhere

William Ury observes the problem in the Middle East is that the third side isn't operating. If those conflicts are to be transformed, all ten third side roles are needed.
William Ury explains how Nelson Mandela was a consummate third sider.

Others' views of the third side approach.

Louis Kriesberg describes the complexity of conflicts, explaining that many people are interacting in many different ways and every individual CAN make a difference.
Elise Boulding discusses women, children, artists are all important third-siders.
Mari Fitzduff suggests that the peacemakers with the most credibility often come from the inside.
Mari Fitzduff talks about the third-sider role sometimes played by paramilitaries and ex-prisioners.
Jannie Botes, a South African at the University of Baltimore, observes that media mediation takes place "a million times a day all over the world," but people don't recognize it or its importance.