Checklist for Intermediaries
Beyond Intractability checklists offer users involved in various conflict situations lists of things to think about, along with links to sections of Beyond Intractability that relate to each item. Intermediaries working on public policy conflicts might want to consider the following questions.
Identify Stakeholders / Interest Groups
Have you identified the many interest or stakeholder groups (as well as individuals) who are likely to become involved?
Are you clear about the parties' underlying goals and interests?
For more information about this topic, see: Setting Goals, Interests, Integrative or Interest-Based Bargaining, Distributive Bargaining, Positional Bargaining, Creating and Claiming Value, Underlying Causes of Intractable Conflict, Frames, Framing, and Reframing
Determine the Conflict Stage
Is the conflict latent, developing, or fully escalated? Has it become intractable? Is the conflict ripe for resolution, or do the parties involved feel it is in their best interest to continue with the status quo?
Do you understand the history of this conflict, including the underlying issues that led to it?
For more information on this topic, see: Underlying Causes of Conflict
Does the conflict involve a history of unrightable wrongs? Are you aware of options for transforming such conflicts?
Do you know how much of the conflict might be attributable to misunderstandings? If not, do you know how to set up communication processes that might be able to answer this question? And, do you know how to set up communication processes that might limit these misunderstandings?
For more information on this topic, see: Misunderstandings, Channels of Communication, In-Depth Communication, Cross-Cultural Communication, Large-Scale Communication, Interpersonal - Small-Scale Communication
Emotional and Psychological Dimensions
Do you know to what extent the parties' responses are due to emotional and psychological dimensions, such as anger, fear, or prejudice? Do you know what is causing these reactions and how to address them?
Do you know how much of the conflict is attributable to disagreements regarding the basic facts? If not, do you know how to set up communication processes that might be able to answer this question? And, do you know how to set up joint fact-finding processes that might limit factual disagreements?
Do you know how much of the conflict is attributable to escalation and polarization? Have you developed and implemented effective steps to limit or reverse this effect?
Anticipate Stakeholder Reactions
Have you determined how each group is likely to react to a conflict resolution effort? Who will support the effort? Oppose it? (Here it is important to recognize within-group differences in interests and positions.)
Coalition Building / Conflict Minimization
For each of the various stakeholder groups likely to be involved in the conflict, have you considered ways of reducing opposition to their efforts while simultaneously strengthening their networks of allies and supporters?
Are you familiar with the different options for intervening in an interpersonal conflict?
Hierarchical Intervention Levels
What level of society do you belong to: grassroots, midlevel or elite? How can you work effectively with other levels of society?
Culture and Conflict
Are cultural misunderstandings contributing to the conflict? Are there differences between the parties in things like nationality, language, gender or age? Do you know some strategies for overcoming cultural differences?
For more information about this topic, see: Culture and Conflict, Culture-Based Negotiation Styles, Cross-Cultural Communication, Communication Tools for Understanding Cultural Differences, Women in Intractable Conflict
Do you have a strategy for explaining the stakeholders' goals and actions to each other? For persuading them that the other stakeholders' goals are reasonable and equitable?
Have you been able to help the parties build trust with each other?
Power / BATNAs
Are you clear about the nature of power and how it affects the parties' "alternatives to a negotiated agreement?" Are you clear about the powers available to other stakeholders? Have you been able to demonstrate to people the powers that the parties are willing to use to defend their interests? (Here you should consider legal, political, and economic power as well as the ability to resist violent assaults.)
For more information on this topic, see: Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA), Understanding Power, Coercive Power, Exchange Power, Integrative Power, Nonviolence, Power Inequities, Empowerment
If the conflict becomes violent, do you have a strategy for de-escalating the violence? Is it possible for you to prevent the violence or is there anything you can do to decrease the suffering caused by it?
Dispute Systems Design
Do you expect a continuing series of similar disputes? Do you know about options for developing a system for the handling of routine disputes?
For more information on this topic, see: Designing New Dispute Resolution Systems
Have you envisioned a more constructive way of dealing with this conflict in the future?
For more information on this topic, see: Envisioning