Fundamentals Seminar 6: Parties

This seminar gives an introduction to all of the different roles people tend to play in conflicts--from disputants to intermediaries to bystanders.

This seminar relates to Conflict Frontiers Massively Parallel Peacebuilding (MPP) Challenge 1: Figuring Out What is Going On.

Fundamental Essays in This Seminar:

  • Parties to Intractable Conflicts -- An essay examining the different roles conflict parties play, showing how even disputants can also be dispute resolovers. 
  • Disputants (Stakeholders or First Parties) -- Disputants are the people primarily involved in a dispute. They are the ones most affected by the outcome of the conflict and the ones who are pursuing it.
  • Leaders and Leadership -- An examination of the different meanings of the word "leader," what makes leaders good or bad, and the dynamics between a group and their leader. 
  • Levels of Action (Lederach's Pyramid) -- A well-known diagram from Building Peace, this essay explains the roles of top-level, mid-level, and grassroots leadership. 
  • Intermediaries -- One of the principal insights of the conflict resolution field is that intermediaries who attempt to approach conflict from an independent, fair, and neutral perspective can help parties work through their difficulties in ways that would be impossible for them to do alone.
    • Formal Intermediaries -- Formal intermediaries are ones who act as professional third parties: mediators, arbitrators, facilitators and judges. They are contrasted with informal intermediaries who play the same roles on an informal basis.
    • Informal Intermediaries -- It is not necessary to be formally trained to have a positive effect on conflict. Ordinary people can act as facilitators, mediators, or even arbitrators (ask parents!) to help resolve disputes.
  • Third Siders - Third Siders are insiders and outsiders to a conflict who want to make it better for everyone.  They can play any of ten different roles.
  • Bystanders -- Bystanders are the ones caught in the cross fire of a conflict. This essay argues that although the bystander role is often that of a victim, it is also a potentially powerful role.