The Third Side as a Self-Organizing Social Movement

William Ury

Director of the Global Negotiation Project, Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School

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 ???).

The third side comes from them. It has nothing to do with me - it comes from them. And things like, they had a big dance - like 2,000 young people on the third side and they it's quite amazing what's going on. They're organizing dialogues and it's on-going. At the same time that's going on on one level of that society, and on the other level we were working with government ministers, with media owners, with the President himself, the President himself went on national TV and said, "I'm a third sider." I'm not sure that necessarily advanced the situation, but we were just trying experiment after experiment to see. That's the way it works can you create a container in which people can see other more peaceful ways of handling this? And the jury's still very much out and I think at the same time international observers, if you'd asked them two years ago, they would be very surprised there hasn't been much more violence then there's been. So it may very well be an example in the future of how a civil war, or a possible civil war or possible major civil violence, might actually be prevented. And that's what the world needs. We're just at the infancy of learning that. And to me the key tool is not the magic appearance of the magic mediator, it's the self-organizing movement from within the society, supported by outsiders, including mediators, facilitators and so on, but it's a self-organizing phenomenon that I call, "the Third Side."