The Third Side: Roles

Third Side Roles

The Third Side program has developed materials describing how people in ten basic roles can act to reduce the destructiveness commonly associated with intractable conflict.

If you wish to learn more about what third-sider role you are currently playing or are most suited to play, please take this quiz.

  • The Arbiter - Whereas a mediator can only suggest a solution, this person can decide what is right. Resolving disputes, promoting justice, and encouraging negotiation are the arbiter's central roles.
  • The Bridge Builder - The basic role of the bridge builder is to bring people together and help establish personal relationships.
  • The Equalizer - The central role of the equalizer is to empower the weak and unrepresented so that they can negotiate a fair and satisfactory resolution. This involves helping to bring the powerful to the table, building collaborative democracy, and supporting nonviolent action.
  • The Healer - The role of the healer is to help parties overcome their feelings of anger, fear, humiliation, insecurity, and grief. This includes listening to people's grievances, acknowledging hurt feelings, and encouraging parties to apologize and make reparations.
  • The Mediator - The central roles of the mediator are to bring the parties to the table, facilitate communication, and help people to search for a solution.
  • The Peacekeeper - The central role of the peacekeeper is to provide protection. This includes interposing between parties, enforcing the peace, and preempting violence before it starts.
  • The Provider - The basic roles of the provider are to share resources and knowledge, give others a sense of security, and help ensure that basic human needs are met.
  • The Referee - The referee establishes rules for fair fighting, takes away dangerous weapons, and strengthens defenses.
  • The Teacher - Sometimes people fight simply because they know of no other way to react when a need is frustrated and a serious difference arises. The roles of the teacher are to delegitimize violence, teach tolerance, and expose people to practical ways of solving their problems.
  • The Witness - The witness watches out for early warning signals, goes on patrol and reports violent incidents, and calls for the attention of other community members.
  • Main Third Side User Guide Page

Much of the material on this user guide is drawn from Thanks to Bill Ury and Josh Weiss for giving us permission to republish their material here.