John Davies, Edward Kaufman, eds. Second Track / Citizens' Diplomacy: Concepts and Techniques for Conflict Transformation. Lanham and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. ix + 318 pp. $41.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8476-9552-2; $88.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8476-9551-5.
Reviewed by James Voorhees (INDUS Corporation)
Published on H-Diplo (March, 2003)
Making Peace on the Second Track
Making Peace on the Second Track
Today's headlines show how limited traditional diplomacy can be as a tool for resolving conflicts. We are close to war with Iraq. The Israelis and the Palestinians continue to kill each other. North Korea noisily pursues its bomb. India and Pakistan glare at each other across Kashmir. Chechens and Russians kill soldiers and civilians alike. The disciples of Osama Bin Laden keep much of the world in fear. There are, of course, numerous other conflicts that do not make it onto CNN. In the volume under review, Ted Robert Gurr and John Davies point out that violent conflict has fallen dramatically since the end of the Cold War, which is cause for comfort. But looked at in longer time frame, as Ambassador John McDonald does, such conflict has exploded. In any case, violent conflict threatens to overwhelm us, and our traditional means of dealing with it too often fails.
This sentiment is not new. There have long been citizens of democracies who have thought that there was a better approach to conflict and that they could go where diplomats did not dare. Many of these efforts were ill conceived, like Henry Ford's Peace Ship in 1916. Since the 1950s, the number of efforts to involve citizens in diplomacy has increased almost exponentially, as has transnational interaction in general. The Pugwash Conferences, the Dartmouth Conferences, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the Forum for U. S.-Soviet Dialogue, the work of the United Nations Association of the United States and a host of similar groups brought people from opposing groups together to discuss issues of mutual concern during the Cold War. The evidence seems clear that they had some influence on the course of the Cold War and its outcome. In this volume, McDonald argues that second-track diplomacy helped reverse the Reagan administration's approach to the PLO and, in effect, helped draft the bill of rights included in the Easter Agreement for Northern Ireland
Davies and Kaufman examine the current state of this unofficial, citizen-led approach to resolving conflict or, as the editors prefer, transforming it. Their book is an effort to provide a guide to the current state of theory and practice. It is intended to provide a snapshot of the field of second-track diplomacy and to serve as a resource for practitioners. Like many edited works, it both succeeds and fails, in part.
The editors have divided the book into four parts. It opens with four essays, by Edward Azar; Gurr and Davies; McDonald; and Ronald Fisher, that examine the dynamics of conflict and the history of the field. It continues with another four essays that, the editors say, provide more detail on the application of the processes analyzed in the first section. These chapters are a potpourri that includes Herbert Kelman's examination of his own workshops; Davies' examination of seven strategies for managing conflict, which he concatenates into a model of political development; a guide for dealing with different cultures by Christopher Moore and Peter Woodrow; and, an examination of the reconciliation process in South Africa by Eileen Borris. Section three has two chapters. These essays by Kaufman describe his Innovative Problem Solving Workshops (IPSWs). The last section also has two chapters (one by Andrea Strimling, the other by Joy Rothman and Victor Friedman) that address practical issues in designing second-track diplomacy programs.
Putative practitioners will get the most out of this book. The detailed descriptions of the workshops provided by Kaufman, Strimling, and Kelman will be useful sources of ideas to anyone trying to begin a dialogue between groups in conflict. Kelman's chapter is a clear, concise summary of his approach. Kaufman's two chapters present a step-by-step guide to his "innovative problem-solving workshop." The model he presents is of an optimal two-week program. Other chapters add significantly to the book's utility as a "how-to" guide. Moore and Woodrow's framework for mapping cultures may enlighten those with little cross-cultural experience. Rothman and Friedman describe an approach they have used to evaluate conflict management projects. Their chapter should be regarded as a first step rather than the last word on the topic, but it will be important to anyone seeking funding for such work.
The book is less successful as a snapshot of the field. It focuses on what Azar calls protected social conflict, that is, on long-term conflicts between social groups. These are usually ethnopolitical conflicts within a state. Other kinds of conflicts are given little attention. Yet practitioners working on state-to-state conflicts, for example, have made significant contributions in the past and may yet in the future. Current practice is most strongly focused on ethnopolitical conflicts, however, and this is where it promises to be most effective.
The authors focus on the work of theorists and thereby leave out the significant accomplishments of groups that have worked with little guide from scholarly theory. Pugwash barely gets a mention, and the Dartmouth Conferences before 1980 are ignored. Indeed, "scholar-practitioners" are at the center of the book, despite the important contributions made by those without a base in academia. Yet Davies, Kaufman, perhaps Kelman, and others are training practitioners, not scholars. I would argue that the future of the field lies with those, like the graduates of centers like the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) where Davies and Kaufman teach, who can take what they are taught and apply it.
The book reflects the state of the field, which is promising but incomplete; Fisher and Kelman both describe it as "maturing." Second-track diplomacy can be likened to a market for widgets. Each entrepreneur has a widget much like the others, but each can tell you, convincingly, that his or her widget looks better or works better. The competition among those who work on second-track diplomacy reflects the youth of the field. Fisher's useful chapter traces the intellectual origins of second-track diplomacy back to the mid-1960s, but few have mined this field and it remains underdeveloped, though the people working in it can point to significant accomplishments in both theory and practice.
There remain important elements of theory and method that need to be developed. For example, several authors, notably Strimling, show how important it is to measure the success of a second-track diplomacy project by citing the chapter by Rothman and Friedman. Yet the chapter itself emphasizes that their method is evolving. Indeed, they have not gone through their own last stage. The importance given to evaluation is not misplaced, though measuring the effectiveness of a long-term, low profile process that seeks to effect change in complicated, deep-seated conflicts should never be seen as easy. Second-track diplomacy works best in the shadows around public events. Its influence on official, first-track negotiations is difficult to prove, although the indications that it does have influence can be fairly clear. Its effects on a conflict are usually incremental and often difficult to perceive. Indeed, both Kelman and Kaufman, along with others, have worked long and hard on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Can they be called successful, given how the conflict seems to have grown worse in the last year? Perhaps they can, but by what measure? This is not to diminish the work of these practitioners, whose efforts deserve respect, but without adequate measurements of the success of second-track diplomacy, one is left only with a leap of faith in the long-term efficacy of the approach and the field will not mature without them.
There are large areas of disagreement. The very title of the book reflects this. "Second-track diplomacy" is used by most of the authors, but the inventor of the term, John McDonald, prefers a different one. Only Kaufman seems to favor citizens' diplomacy. Other authors in the volume have their own terms, for example, Ronald Fisher prefers "interactive conflict resolution" and Herbert Kelman prefers "interactive problem-solving."
Such differences in terminology point up important differences in concepts and approach between people working in the field. Some of these are implied by the authors, while others are more explicit. For example, some of the authors draw on the distinction made by John Paul Lederach between prescriptive programs, where the third party teaches the participants, and elicitive programs, where the third party builds on what the participants already have. Kaufman's program is prescriptive; much of his two-week program is designed to teach ideas he finds essential to the process. The Dartmouth process, which is much like Kelman's approach, focuses on drawing out the concerns of the parties involved and letting them find ways to think and work together. Some programs are designed to create a cadre of practitioners, expecting them to use the same approach to carry the message to others in their community; other programs concentrate directly on the conflict at hand.
The differences in approach are important. They should foster an expansion of what practitioners believe can be done. But the differences in language and approach among the scholar-practitioners who have adopted this approach to conflict mask similarities that have not been made prominent enough either in the book or in the public discourse on second-track diplomacy. These similarities can form a solid base on which to build the kind of professional community that Davies, Kaufman, and their colleagues seek. Most of those who work in second-track diplomacy seem to agree on a number of factors. First problems in international conflict are mostly between societies. The realist, state-centric model does not adequately describe current international politics. Even inter-state conflicts have less to do with governments than peoples. Second, second-track diplomacy can be a useful, even essential, supplement to traditional first-track diplomacy, but it cannot replace it. Third, second-track diplomacy, if effective, will transform how those who participate see the conflict. Many practitioners go beyond this to posit a change in the participants themselves. Fourth, to be effective, the interaction launched by second-track diplomacy must be long term. A single workshop will not do. McDonald says that the Institute for Multi-track Diplomacy makes a five-year commitment before it begins work on a task. In some cases, that may be too short. Fifth, the presence of a third party is needed. There is disagreement over what the role of a third party should be, but not over the need for one. Finally, sixth, not everyone is suitable to the kind of dialogue second-track diplomacy requires. The participant must be capable of empathy and able to see the point of view from the other side. This means that participants must be chosen with some care.
This list is incomplete and the base that practitioners of second-track diplomacy have to work on is stronger than this short list suggests. There is much work yet to be done in the field, but the book under review suggests that its potential to mitigate conflict is great. It is certainly an approach that has not been tried enough. The headlines suggest that the need for it has never been greater.
Second-track diplomacy is worthy of attention, and so is this book. Like most edited volumes, it is uneven; like its field, it is somewhat disjointed and incomplete. But scholars and practitioners interested in approaches to peace will find much in it that is useful, some that is thought-provoking. A few, perhaps, will find it an incitement.
. Besides the remarkable advances in transportation and telecommunications, the growth of transnational civil society, of which those who work in second-track diplomacy are a part, has been unprecedented. See, for example, Thomas Risse-Kappen, ed., Bringing Transnational Relations Back in: Non-State Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Ann M. Florini, ed., Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2000); and Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics Ithaca,: Cornell University Press, 1998).
. Matthew Evangelista, Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999); and James Voorhees, Dialogue Sustained: The Multilateral Peace Process and the Dartmouth Conference_ (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2002).
. Nor is mention made of types of conflict such as those between labor and management that have been addressed more fully in the United States than elsewhere. Perhaps what is accomplished in such cases by definition is not diplomacy, but surely some ideas have crossed borders with the second-track diplomatists. Indeed, a curious feature of second-track diplomacy, not just as presented in this book but elsewhere, is that most often a clear but unstated distinction is made between the methods used for international and intranational conflicts abroad and those used in conflict resolution within the United States. For an exception, see Harold H. Saunders, A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflicts (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999).
. John Paul Lederach, Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995).
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James Voorhees. Review of Davies, John; Kaufman, Edward, eds., Second Track / Citizens' Diplomacy: Concepts and Techniques for Conflict Transformation.
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Copyright © 2003 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.