Widener University School of Law Seal

What does it take to bring warring ethnic parties to the table in the Kosovo crisis? –

The role of humanitarian organisations in the Mediation process.

“We may be different, but we are alike in suffering and loss.” (Joy Helmer )

By: Jill Stockwell, M.A.

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Biography of the Author

Published: October, 2002

 

Introduction…

“Efforts by outsiders to mediate ethnic tensions within states, especially those involving secessionist demands, are few and far between.  Successful mediation efforts are scarcer still”.[1]  Recent increases in the global incidence of violent conflict between warring ethnic populations have been ascribed to the failure of ex-Colonial empires to create borders that made any ethnic, economic or geographic sense.[2]  Accountability for ethnic clashes lie however, with the leaders of the newly created states who have failed in their bid to peacefully negotiate border changes, for fear of losing their hard earned gains.[3]  Whilst there has been a general easing of tension over East-West relations during the last decades, struggles for domestic political and economic control and full recognition of ethnic peoples’ rights and identities, have taken precedence in the international arena.  As the world community has seemingly grown smaller in terms of information processes, modes of communication and the mass mobilisation of individuals, the recent shift away from internationally fought conflicts towards internally fought conflicts, as seen within the Balkan region, has taken violence and aggression to new heights amidst a rising trend of ethnically based conflicts.  It is the opinion of some international players that “the threat of ethnic violence is no less serious than the threat of nuclear war was yesterday”.[4]

While some notable efforts have been made to settle ethnic quarrels before the advent of full-scale conflict, it is increasingly evident that the real mediation processes are executed well after the fighting has begun.  Many of the successful mediation attempts however, have had economic or military threats lurking in the background.[5]  In fact, as has been clearly illustrated by the number of conflicts which have raged within the Balkan region over the last decade, “the difference between when a leader searches for alternatives to force and when negotiations actually commence can be large – large, that is, in time, lives and material resources”.[6]  One of the greatest challenges being posed to today’s mediation process, is the ability of international mediators to encourage the warring ethnic parties to the mediation table. Given that the mediation process requires the consent of both parties and a relatively high level of motivation from each to reach an agreed settlement,[7] the role of the mediator in present day ethnic conflicts involves quite different efforts to those traditionally required by international mediators.  Interests in concrete and quantifiable outcomes such as land, resources or political power are no longer at the heart of these conflicts.  Rather, the interests are in identity and recognition.[8]  The most recent conflict in the former Yugoslav province Kosovo is one such conflict where ethnic identity is the very core of its troubles.  International mediators in this crisis have so far failed to convince the main political actors and rebel groups to resolve their differences through democratic and non-violent channels.  In fact, the efforts of foreign third parties to engage warring entities in dialogue has become increasingly limited, amidst a hodgepodge of manipulative propaganda used to influence the national and international public and the international mediators themselves.[9] 

It is clear that the third parties involved in mediating present day conflicts are now required to explore further innovative strategies to build a greater sense of trust amongst adversaries and to boost the overall level of confidence in the mediation process as an effective resolution tool.[10]  This paper will firstly discuss the role of reflective practice for mediation practitioners working in a conflict such as that raging in Kosovo, who wish to gain a better understanding of the strategies and approaches that are adopted within the highly volatile environment that is characteristic of ethnically based conflicts.  A brief reflection on some personal observations of the mediation process in dealing with ethnic troubles whilst working for an international humanitarian organisation in Kosovo, will then be described.  Two of the main core dimensions to be understood, by international mediators in today’s ethnically fuelled conflicts, the ethnic and political dimensions, will be explored and the role of humanitarian third parties in facilitating dialogue will be ultimately examined.

Reflective Practice…

Exploration and management of individuals’ differing worldviews used to achieve ‘transcendent discourse’, requires that international mediators become strongly self-aware and learn to keenly distinguish between the parties’ narratives and their own personally held views.[11] In the volatile mediation settings of ethnic conflicts, reflective practice may be one professional method to obviate the negative fallout caused by the split-second reflex actions that often stem from a mediator’s own inherent worldview.[12]  Reflective practice by mediators has emerged as essential for those “whose practices are grounded in theories of conflict and conflict resolution, who are aware of ongoing research that informs their practices, and who continually refine their skills through a rigorous process of self-reflection”.[13] This is a positive advancement for those of us who have probably operated more akin to Donald Schon’s description of the practitioner, who, when asked to describe his/her practical technique, described it as less planned and systematic but more “trial and error, intuition and muddling through”.[14]  Thoughtful consideration of the motives behind one’s personal intentions and actions, as well as the ability to understand, evaluate and draw conclusions from past experiences, should better equip one with the knowledge and resources to deal with the more complicated and intricate web of present day ethnic conflicts.[15]  “If anything, the effective use of specialized knowledge depends on a prior restructuring of situations that are complex and uncertain”.[16]

 

I arrived in Kosovo in June 2000, a year after the official end of the conflict.  My role with one of the leading international aid agencies (to remain anonymous) was to trace the whereabouts of missing persons of all ethnicities, who were reported missing by family members as a result of the conflict. I was permitted to visit some of the Serbian communities with my Albanian translator who, like many other Albanians, had been forced to spend his/her school years learning in the Serbian language. I greatly relied on the neutrality of my Albanian field officer to translate information correctly and impartially. As the Albanian field officer had himself been victimised by Serbian individuals, he found it understandably arduous to respect the principles of neutrality and impartiality, the fundamental proponents of the organisation.  Needless to say, this arrangement would set the tone for future mediation efforts and would be a strenuous reflection upon my own ‘worldview’ while acting as a neutral intermediary, as well as invite a vigorous analysis of my rather limited set of skills in facilitating the mediation process.

 

Case study

Kosovo – Mediation at a grassroots level

“We cannot redraw borders and boundaries, making smaller units of ever purer ethnic states.  We cannot survive as a region if ethnicity becomes the sole defining justification of statehood”.[17]  With the Balkans being the last part of Europe to achieve the Wilsonian principle of self-determination –the transition to an ethnically homogeneous nation state - it has also been one of the most difficult and violent transformations that Europe has seen since the Second World War.[18]  The seventy-eight days of Northern Alliance Treaty Organisation (NATO) bombing ended a decade of harsh Serbian treatment of Kosovo Albanians and completed yet another chapter of a ‘tit for tat’ struggle of these two groups for an ancient land.  With the most recent violence coming to an end however, it appears that the Kosovar Albanian’s campaign for an independent Kosovo remains out of reach, with NATO preferring that it remain part of the new Yugoslavia.  While approximately 3520 individuals of Albanian, Serbian, Roma, Bosniak and Egyptian ethnicities are still missing as a result of the conflict,[19] the simmering ethnic hatred continues to propel the conflict forward with ongoing attacks being made by Kosovo Albanian individuals on isolated Kosovo Serbian communities.  The attacks are in response to Albanian demands for answers as to the fate of their missing relatives and for the release of their brothers detained in prisons in Serbia proper.  Neither the plight of the detainees nor the issue of missing persons were addressed by the negotiating parties in either the Kumanovo agreement or in the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 that was struck in June 1999 at the cessation of the conflict.[20]

 

The organisation for which I worked had received word that an unidentified body had been discovered and buried by some Serbian individuals on NATO’s entry into Kosovo.  The individuals assumed that the body was of Serbian ethnicity and thus buried it in the Serbian part of the cemetery.  One year later, a Kosovo Albanian woman approached our office believing that the body was in fact her husband’s.  Exhumation and identification of the body became a highly sensitive issue since bodies to be found were scarce.  A positive identification for the Albanians meant surrendering a body that was presumed to be Serbian.  My Albanian translator and I became the third party between the Albanian woman and a Serbian woman, who was present during the burial and who was the only individual remaining in Kosovo who knew the burial site’s exact location. 

 

Due to the volatility of the external environment, the women never met.  With no command of either the Albanian or Serbian languages I thus shuttled between the two with my Albanian translator. During the mediation’s initial stages, a high level of mistrust between the Serbian woman and the Albanian field officer made discussions volatile. However to guarantee the organisation’s continued presence in the Serbian communities and to avoid jeopardising the organisation’s mandate to act within Kosovo, it was vital that a neutral and impartial front be assured.  While steps were regularly taken to control the flow of dialogue, the Albanian field officer regularly took dubious liberties.  This thwarted my attempts to gradually improve the relationship between the two individuals in a preliminary stage of conflict ‘analysis’.[21] The premise was indeed true that, “when an international mediator enters a dispute, more often than not the mediator has little idea of what to do or what to expect”.[22]

 

The organisation’s work gradually became better known for its neutral and impartial approach.  “Neutrals, unlike other actors in international relations, must demonstrate to others that they are not like most other actors.  They must do this visibly and credibly.  Often, they must do it day-to-day, repeatedly and continually, for if they do not, the fragile reputation they build can easily crumble”.[23]  I spent many hours discussing issues with the Albanian staff member who accompanied me into the Serbian community in an effort to fundamentally alter his partial approach.  However both the field officer and the Serbian woman remained reserved and slightly suspicious about my efforts to help the other.  “A disputing party may accept an intermediary to gain information and promote communication (if only one way), but the actual effect of an intermediary intervention may be quite a different matter.  Logically, intermediaries can not be as ‘neutral’ or ‘impartial’ as parties expect since evenhandedness to one is bias to the other”.[24]  Repeated clarification was made to both parties that my sole motivation was to help those who had lost family members regardless of ethnicity.

 

As I began to feel our presence was better accepted in the community, I also began to notice a more liberal flow of conversation had transpired between the Albanian field officer and the Serbian woman.  While still hesitant to allow a totally free interaction, I did not want to prevent opportunities for reconciliation, since a mediator’s task is to enable the parties to overlook hostilities and listen to each other on a deeper level,[25] and to promote such emotional exchanges in order to enter into a true problem-solving process.[26]  Changes in the Albanian field officer’s mode of interpretation began to emerge.  Previous intransigent behaviour of ‘glossing over’ any subtleties of discourse gave way to offering ‘explanations’ of the Serbian woman’s underlying interests.  The Serbian woman also began to understand the suffering of the Albanian woman as well as the inherent dangers for the Albanian field officer should he be seen entering the Serbian community since, “for those who practice compromise may be treated with bitter contempt reserved for brothers who betray the cause”.[27]  It seemed that through a neutral and transparent approach, the lines of communication were finally beginning to open and an opportunity for joint problem solving would present through the promotion of a deeper level of understanding and trust.[28]

 

A breakthrough finally occurred when the Serbian woman asked me to accompany her to talk to leaders of the Orthodox Church to gain permission to exhume the body from the Serbian side of the cemetery.  The Church understood the organisation’s mandate in that it’s actions did not stem from any direct or indirect ‘interest’ in the issue but was solely derived from a humanitarian need to reach an agreement.[29]  Permission to exhume the body was granted by the Orthodox Church and the Serbian woman finally agreed to be escorted to the cemetery to identify the exact location of the grave.

 

Dimensions of conflict

The practice of non-cooperation in the resolution process at the diplomatic level was largely mirrored by individuals of the differing ethnic sides at the grassroots level.  Needless to say many individuals also remained hostile with their ethnic neighbours.  The mediation process was often made difficult due to individuals’ uncertainty as to how to independently follow their own humanitarian self-interests whilst conforming to the surrounding pressure of the political and ethnic environments.  In order for an international mediator to understand how a transformation in the conflicting parties’ modes of interaction could be realised, a grasp of the domestic politics, bureaucracies and the reasons behind individual decision-making processes must firstly be examined.[30]  Some of the core macro-level dimensions of internal conflict will therefore be explored since, “situational factors – internal and external – have impacts on actual negotiations”.[31]

 

Ethnic dimension...

Ethnicity is viewed as an organism whose major purpose is to highlight and replicate basic social similarities and differences among differing groups of.[32]  It’s present day appeal is thought to have emerged in response to the immense and rapid changes that are occurring in modern day life, whereby individuals with shared values, customs and language unite to avoid the feelings of alienation that have become characteristic in this age of Globalisation.[33]  While it has been thought that Globalisation has promoted a more closely interconnected community, becoming even more integrated with each new technological step forward,[34] it has also been argued that it has contributed to increased fragmentation within the international community.[35]  “As it becomes increasingly difficult for individuals to find ‘satisfactory selfhood’ in large entities, they become alienated from the larger whole and begin to search for identity in smaller units”.[36] Modern ideas of progress such as the integration and harmonious unity of the world’s different ethnicities, cultures and nations into the one parallel universe, appears to be an illusionary image in reality.[37]  As a consequence, a new wave of ‘balkanisation’ has emerged that has fractured once united communities into a multitude of feuding ethnic groups.[38]

 

“Involving individual psychological dynamics and socially inherited definitions of the self, ethnicity is connected to processes, both conscious and unconscious, that satisfy a fundamental need for historical continuity and security”.[39]  Ethnicity has been an essential source of the individual’s social meaning and recognition throughout history.[40]  While ethnic difference is a normal feature in socially differentiating between ethnic groups, it is at the same time, a strategic tool that can be manipulated and misused by political elites to achieve political outcomes.[41]  It remains unclear however, which conditions are fertile for the emergence of ethnic hostilities and why some conflicts result in more violent outcomes than others.[42]  For this reason, attempts at conflict resolution between differing ethnic parties have been largely unsuccessful for international mediators due to an insufficient understanding of the conflict’s ethnic and political dimensions.[43]  “Practitioners need to understand how the complexities involved in ethnic dynamics can affect the helping encounter.  A general understanding is not enough”.[44] 

 

Explanations for the emergence of ethnically based conflicts have also focussed on highly selective historical accounts that over time, have become distorted, exaggerated and glorified and that have become a salient part of the group’s lore.[45]  In fact, “ethnicity can shape individual identity and self-respect because of the ‘myth-symbol’ complex which endows ethnicity with special qualities and durability”.[46]  The picture of the battling, ethnic Albanian as surviving oppression under the Byzantine Empire until the fourteenth century, under the medieval Serbian Empire during the fourteenth, under the Ottoman Empire from the fifteenth to the twentieth century and finally under Serbian rule in Kosovo until 1998, has provided a powerful history of suppression upon which the Kosovo Albanian population has drawn strength to fight its most recent battle.[47]  Meanwhile, Serbian leaders’ manipulation of popular emotions by historically portraying the Kosovo Serbs as victims under the dominance of a majority Albanian population, has also stirred strong nationalistic emotion.[48]  Powerful images of destroyed, centuries old Serbian churches and monuments within Kosovo have been used to provoke radical feelings to reclaim the treasured cradle of Serbia’s historical roots.[49] 

 

“Distorted and exaggerated with time, these histories present one’s own group as heroic, while other groups are demonized.  Grievances are enshrined, and other groups are portrayed as inherently vicious and aggressive.  Group members typically treat these ethnic myths as received wisdom”.[50]  As a result, it is unsurprising that a key feature of the Balkan conflict is that the merest provocation by one ethnic party merely confirms the other party’s deeply held belief system that it has the right to incite and justify violent retaliatory responses.[51]  In this case, the conflict appeared to become so intense as both parties were lead to believe that their very existence was threatened.  It is only once the storytelling of ethnicity has been ‘demythologised’, can the mediating third parties be more effective in clarifying the determining factors that politicise ethnicity and understanding the mechanisms that manipulate ethnic differentiation and transform them into political forces.[52] 

 

Political dimension…

Horowitz and Welsh have pointed out that the tendency for political parties to form according to loyalty to ethnic origins rather than to any political conviction within multi-ethnic societies has only exacerbated the incidence of ethnic violence.[53]  Despite efforts by Kosovo’s current democratically elected Albanian leader, Ibrahim Rugova, to promote his Ghandian approach of non-violence to deal with Kosovo’s minority Serbian community, the balance of power still lies with those political leaders who have newly emerged from war and who appeal to the communal, ethnic and nationalistic impulses of the people, while making threats to those who wish to organise democratic order.  In fact, many Albanian individuals despite having claimed newfound freedom still did not feel empowered in a society where fear continued to be used as a tool for control, to advance political objectives.  The population’s overall sense of powerlessness was also ensconced in the heavy manipulation of the newly introduced system of liberal democracy by those who had had no liberal tradition or understanding and who sought to misuse their newly gained power to revenge their previous aggressors, be they of Albanian or Serbian origin.[54]  For grassroots populations to become more open to the mediation process, a deeper understanding of the interaction between the personal and political spheres must be achieved by the mediator to allow the possibilities for change to be realised.[55]

Horrowitz believes that, “In divided societies, ethnic conflict is at the centre of politics”.[56]  Rothschild concurs by saying, “politicisation of ethnicity involves the political transmutation of ethnicity from ‘a phychological or cultural or social datum into political leverage for the purpose of altering or reinforcing such systems of structured inequality between and among ethnic categories’”.[57]  The volatile relationship between the Kosovo Albanian and Serbian communities at the domestic level continues to escalate, as it mirrors the atmosphere of mistrust played out by the political hegemonies, which continue to breed an environment for ethnic intolerance.  In fact, after ruminating on recent political moves made by both Albanian and Serbian leaders to execute some sense of control over both the province of Kosovo, its five kilometre security buffer zone and more recently the Former Republic of Macedonia and areas of Southern Serbia, it appears that the core issues surrounding ethnic conflict, so often identified as stemming from radical differences in ethnic attributes, have their roots instead solidly planted within the political realm.[58] The term ‘ethnopolitical’ has been suggested as a more precise description of the ethnic conflict in Kosovo as it recognises the gross manipulation of the ethnic populace by political elites who aggressively strive to control the territory and its resources.[59]

 

Whilst historically ethnicity has had no role in the formation of nation states, it is only a recent trend for newly created national movements to be based on a strong ethnic consciousness.[60]  In fact, some academics claim that many of the newly emerging political movements within the Balkan region are both ethnic and nationalist in character.[61]  Where the Serbian nation was used by its leaders as the ultimate object of devotion and the integrative force of Serbian ethnicity was manipulated to maximise the nation’s propensity towards violent conflict, nationalism in this sense was used to justify the most abhorrent atrocities in order to serve national political interests.[62]  In such cases of radical nationalism, politicisation of the Kosovar conflict forced ethnic groups to construct physical and political boundaries between themselves and those of rival groups.[63]

 

Critical Reflection – Role of humanitarian third party to facilitate dialogue…

Gaining access to all parties

Due to their neutral and impartial approach, international humanitarian organisations generally have the capacity to access all parties to a conflict and conduct the mediation process in an atmosphere characterised by a discreet and non-threatening approach.  Meetings between conflicting parties may assume a private tone, away from the public eye.  This proves conducive to increasing the parties’ willingness to reveal information that ultimately helps to move the process closer to settlement.[64]  Moreover, with their discerning profile, such organisations offer a level of confidentiality that is often unable to be afforded by other Government constituencies that are required to show full accountability and are subject to domestic and international public opinion.[65]  Particularly at a grassroots level where individuals experience high levels of fear of reprisal from those within their own ethnic group who have no wish to better relations, the neutrality and low profile tone offered by an international humanitarian organisation, can offer the low-risk environment that more conciliatory parties seek.  Issues of ‘entry-timing’ into a dispute and its possible negativity on the effectiveness of the intervention should it prove inappropriate, are also minimalised as International humanitarian organisations are able to enter warring communities, offering services that are needed and welcomed.  Whilst access to services is not used as a manipulation tool by these organisations, it is a reality that the mediation process gains better leverage as the parties realise the personal advantages that can be gained from cooperation.[66]

 

Reaching the direct causes of suffering

“In short, effective communication and realistic empathy are rarities in modern international negotiations.  In almost no interactions do two adversaries understand each other’s goals, fears, means-end beliefs, and perceptions.  Empathy is difficult and usually lacking”.[67] The ability of the international mediator to draw parallels between the realities of two conflicting parties is, by no means, an easy feat when surrounded by the exhaustive set of limitations that are imposed by the political environment.  However, as was clearly shown in the above case study, the will of the people to instigate changes in their personal lives proved far greater than the political will that encouraged them to remain hostile and aggrieved.  Clarifying the parties’ general understanding of what was being done at a political level with regards to missing individuals and encouraging them to acknowledge their mutual interests enabled the direct causes of their suffering to be identified and addressed.  Parallels that were drawn between the parties’ devastating experiences prompted a deeper humanitarian understanding of the mutual causes of their suffering and a new level of empathy emerged in their communication.  “It is, after all, the recognition of a mutual interest or joint problem that produces a dialogue.  The underlying mutuality of the decision to negotiate is in fact the key to the process”.[68]  It is only once the victims become aware that their anger is misdirected at other victims, who themselves share in the same pain, can real dialogue begin.

 

Some international mediators have proclaimed that emotion may inhibit mediators’ attempts to reach an agreement.[69]  However the high levels of emotion that were encountered within the isolated setting of the Serbian community were effective in conveying the message that individuals from all parties to the conflict had been adversely affected.  Rather than ignore these highly explosive moments of emotional outbursts I learned to accommodate them and instead utilise them to promote discussion around the humanitarian issues that were most important and that were at the direct centre of their suffering.  Through such incidents, each party was able to visibly see the intensity of the other’s reactions and the genuine spontaneity of that reaction.[70]

 

Changing modes of interaction

“The better the relationship is between the negotiating parties, in terms of trust and communication, the more powerful are the negotiators because they rely on each other for mutual respect and trust each other’s commitments to carry out agreed promises.  Building a good working relationship provides a powerful base for long term negotiation as in such circumstances the relationship is often more important than the immediate goal of obtaining a short-term result”.[71]  In the case of Kosovo, to re-establish relationships that had not been based on mutual respect and trust but had been instead based on a whole generation of learned oppression and misuse of power, was clearly going to prove a long and arduous process.[72]  “We must begin with the individual consciousness – but to bring about social change it must move from changing our personal ways of thinking and doing to changing external relations”.[73] 

 

Even though the staff with whom I worked had themselves once been marginalised, they used their power to marginalise others.  Foucault did theorise that, “power was not a one-way phenomenon” and that its usage was an “inevitable feature of human existence in so far as differences of interest are intrinsic to social life”.[74]  I did feel however, that this oppressive tendency stemmed from a lack of knowing how to act differently and how to cease identifying as a victim.  Both parties were terrified of being re-traumatised should they engage openly and honestly in the resolution process.[75]  I certainly directed effort into raising the awareness of the Albanian field officer while pointing out his continuing role in the cycle of oppression.  Paulo Friere suggests “that a process of ‘awareness-training’ and ‘conscientization’ occurs through the limited intervention of outsiders who interact with people by posing problems and generating discussions, thereby awakening them to structural causes”.[76] 

 

Intermediaries in ethnic conflict may provide just enough incentive to change long held perceptions and attitudes to tip the balance from a contentious to a cooperative resolve to settle the dispute.[77]  The focus on non-official interactive facilitation with certain individuals was certainly the key to ultimately facilitating a communication process that provided for more enduring and mutually reinforcing outcomes.[78]  Issues of the misuse of power that restricted steps towards establishing a relationship between the parties were openly addressed and explored.  Consequently, “raising the consciousness of power holders of the nature and consequences of power relationships to impress upon them their stewardship responsibility is as important as carrying out consciousness raising exercises among the powerless that help them discover the sources of their own inherent strength”.[79]

 

Building trust

Measures were taken to build trust amongst the adversaries and to boost their confidence in the mediation process by focusing on interests rather than positions, by separating individuals from the problem, by showing options for mutual gain and by using objective judgement in assessing the merits of the proposed solutions.[80]  While most measures taken were salient, the ability to reduce the propensity of each party to demonise the other proved to be the most difficult task.  In the end however, it also provided the most significant breakthrough.  “At the perceptual level, outside powers should try to help ethnic groups develop better histories of each other”.[81]  By getting to know one’s counterparts on a personal level, old legacies were demystified and the parties’ negative perceptions slowly dissipated.  The adoption of track-two diplomacy with a focus on humanitarian issues permitted the parties to informally come together more easily and to explore their mutual fears and grievances without feeling pressured to remain hostile by their highly influential political constituencies.[82] 

“The nature of an intervention and its effect on the dispute is determined in part by how the parties conceive of the dispute resolution process”.[83]  On ruminating the decision of the Serbian woman to assist her adversary together with the marked change in attitude of the Albanian field officer, it seemed that both parties were encouraged to participate in the resolution process due to a high degree of trust in my own personal motivations as well as the discretion and confidentiality offered by the organisation.  Presentation of a transparent, equal and impartial approach whilst acting as an intermediary together with the organisation’s international credentials, surely attributed towards gaining higher levels of the parties’ trust.[84]  As the parties “knew they could not simply reveal their values and intentions and expect reciprocation without exploitation”, barriers to communication seemed initially insurmountable.[85]  However, with increased emphasis being placed on removing the obstacles to attain effective communication,[86] as well as remaining focussed on the humanitarian rather than the political interests of the parties, the fear of exploitation was substantially diminished with the parties gradually believing in the safety of the process.

 

Concluding Remarks…

“Constructive conflict management is, has been, and always will be an answer to critical social problems”.[87]  There is no ‘menu’ of concrete solutions for resolving ethnic conflicts largely owing to the highly contentious debate over details of historical origins.[88]  However with the ethnic genie now out of the bottle, the role of humanitarian organisations in mediating solutions between different ethnic parties may become more significant as the rate of human suffering continues to increase and individuals begin to defy the will of their political leaders in order to gain much needed answers.  Humanitarian organisations, as was witnessed on a very small scale in Kosovo, are able to shift the debate from the political to the humanitarian realm and begin to rebuild relationships that are based on mutual trust and human experience.  Where ethnic hatred runs deep and political, economic and social problems become more complex, a mediation process carried out at a grassroots level which focuses on humanitarian interests, may offer the only long term hope for resolving such an intense ethnic conflict.[89]

 

Families of missing individuals are beginning to awaken to the fact that their victim status has been compounded by their political leaders’ refusal to negotiate with their adversaries and are now making steps to give a voice to their demands for concrete answers.  Faith in the political hegemonies to solve grassroots social problems is dissipating as many individuals are becoming more disillusioned with their leaders, who appear to be more concerned with serving their own self-interests.  Due to this all too familiar global reality, the individuals at the grassroots level of society are beginning to assume responsibility for their own fate and are taking potentially risky steps to communicate with and attain direct answers from their enemy.  During this process however, many are compelled to transcend the political propaganda that paints their adversaries as demons and are obliged to see the their likeness in suffering and loss.  “Mediation as a process of peacemaking traverses social domains and forms a central component of human conduct”.[90]  Mediation processes in ethnically fuelled conflicts should focus on the relief of human suffering rather than political or ethnic objectives at a diplomatic level.  A highly influential and public mediation process needs to be initiated by international humanitarian organisations where those who are suffering at the grassroots level are represented at the negotiating table.  However as may prove to be the case in Kosovo in the future, the will of individuals can never be underestimated and their involvement with their adversaries in the mediation process to gain humanitarian answers may ultimately impel their leaders to do the same.


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Smith, M. (1992) ‘Modernization, Globalization and the Nation State’ in McGrew, A. and Lewis, P. (eds) Global Politics, Polity Press: Cambridge.

 

Starkey, B. Boyer, M.A. & Wilkenfeld J. (1999) Negotiating a Complex World: An Introduction to International Negotiation, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc: Oxford.

 

The International Crisis Group (2001) Religion in Kosovo. 25/05/01, http://www.crisisweb.org/projects/howreport.cfm?reportid=22.

 

 

Thompson, N. (1998) Promoting Equality:  Challenging Discrimination and Oppression in the Human Services, MacMillan: London.

Notes



[1] Walker in Brown, M. (1993) Ethnic Conflict & International Security, Princeton University Press: New Jersey, p.165.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Kozyrev in Boardman & Horowitz (1994) ‘Constructive Conflict Management and Social Problems: An Introduction’ in Journal of Social Issues, 50 (1): 2.

[5] Walker in Brown, M. (1993) Ethnic Conflict & International Security, Princeton University Press: New Jersey,

p. 165.

[6] Princen, T. (1992) Intermediaries in International Conflict, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p. 224.

[7] Nathan, L. (2001) At the Core: Six Strategic Principles . 25.05.01, http://www.mediate.com/articles/nathan1.cfm.

[8] Walker in Brown, M. Ethnic Conflict & International Security, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, 1993,  p.167.

[9] Simic, Predrag (2001) Conflict Management versus Conflict Solution: The Case of Yugoslavia. 25/05/01, http://www.ieis.lu/ieis/books/sources&areas/simic.htm., p.15.

[10] Starkey, B. Boyer, M.A. & Wilkenfeld J. (1999) Negotiating a Complex World: An Introduction to International Negotiation, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc: Oxford, p.115.

[11] Giacalone Di Domenico, Anne (2001) Worldviews…. Do You Have One? 30/03/01, http://www.mediate.com/articles/didomenico.cfm.

[12] Currie, Chris (2001) When Interest-Based Bargaining Is Not Enough. 30/03/01, http://www.mediate.com/articles/currie3.cfm.

[13] Lang, Michael (1998) Becoming Reflective Practitioners. 04.08.98, http://www.mediate.com/articles/relect.cfm.

[14] Schon, D.A. (1995) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals think in action, Arena: Aldershot, England, p.43.

[15] Lang, Michael (1998) Becoming Reflective Practitioners. 04.08.98, http://www.mediate.com/articles/relect.cfm.

[16] Schon, D.A. (1995) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals think in action, Arena: Aldershot, England, p.19.

[17] President Boris Trajkovski of Macedonia in Power, J. (2001) Jonathan Power Columns. 30.03.01, http://www.transnational.org/forum/power/2001/03.05_Macedonia.html.

[18] Power, J. (2001) Jonathan Power Columns. 30.03.01, http://www.transnational.org/forum/power/2001/03.05_Macedonia.html.

[19] International Committee of the Red Cross (2001) Persons Unaccounted for in Connection with the Kosovo Crisis. 25/05/01, http://www.icrc.org/icrceng.nsf/index/D…68EDD3DA6FC125699F003021BO?

[20] Ibid.

[21] Boardman & Horowitz (1994) ‘Constructive Conflict Management and Social Problems: An Introduction’ in Journal of Social Issues 50 (1): 8.

[22] Princen, T. (1992) Intermediaries in International Conflict, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.87.

[23] Ibid., p.30.

[24] Ibid., p.10.

[25] Odendaal, Andries (2001) Modelling Mediation: Evolving Approaches to Mediation in South Africa. 25.05.01, http://www.mediate.com/articles/odendaal.cfm.

[26] Princen, T. (1992) Intermediaries in International Conflict, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.97.

[27] Horrowitz, D.L. (1985) Ethnic Groups in Conflict, University of California Press: London, p.54.

[28] Princen, T. (1992) Intermediaries in International Conflict, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.26.

[29] Ibid., p.20.

[30] Ibid., p.47.

[31] Starkey, B. Boyer, M.A. & Wilkenfeld J. (1999) Negotiating a Complex World: An Introduction to International Negotiation, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc: Oxford, p.6.

[32] Chapman, M. (ed) (1993) Social and Biological Aspects of Ethnicity, Oxford University Press: New York; Eriksen, T.H. (1991) ‘Ethnicity Versus Nationalism’, Journal of Peace Research 28 (3):  263-278.

[33] Bozic in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.120.

[34] Smith, M. (1992) ‘Modernization, Globalization and the Nation State’ in McGrew, A. and Lewis, P. (eds) Global Politics, Polity Press: Cambridge, p.253.

[35] Dickson A.K. (1997) Development and International Relations:  A Critical Introduction, Polity Press: USA, p.155.

[36] Glynn in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.120.

[37] Noorgaard, R. (1994) Development Betrayed: The End of Progress and a Coevolutionary Revisioning of the Future, Routledge: London, p.52.

[38] www.britannica.com/magazine?ebsco_id=77904&pager.offset=10.

[39] Giordono & Levine in Pinderhughes, E. (1989) Understanding Race, Ethnicity & Power: The key to Efficacy in Clinical Practice, The Free Press: New York, p.39.

[40] Castells, M. (1997) The Information Age, Economy, Society & Culture: The Power of Identity, vol (II), Blackwell Publishers: Massachusetts p.53.

[41] Bozic in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.117.

[42] Brown, M. (1993) Ethnic Conflict & International Security, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.12.

[43] Bozic in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.117.

[44] Pinderhughes, E. (1989) Understanding Race, Ethnicity & Power: The key to Efficacy in Clinical Practice, The Free Press: New York, p.69.

[45] Brown, M. (1993) Ethnic Conflict & International Security, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.11.

[46] Bozic in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.120.

[47] Miall in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.133.

[48] The International Crisis Group (2001) Religion in Kosovo. 25/05/01, http://www.crisisweb.org/projects/howreport.cfm?reportid=22.

[49] Miall in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.137.

[50] Brown, M. (1993) Ethnic Conflict & International Security, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.11.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Bozic in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.118.

[53] Brown, M. (1993) Ethnic Conflict & International Security, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.10.

[54] Dickson A.K. (1997) Development and International Relations:  A Critical Introduction, Polity Press: USA, p.144.

[55] Ife, J. (1995) Community Development: Creating Community Alternatives: Vision, Analysis and Practice, Addison Wesley Longman Australia Pty Ltd: South Melbourne, p.95.

[56] Horrowitz, D.L. (1985) Ethnic Groups in Conflict, University of California Press: London, p.12.

[57] Bozic in Cordell, K. (ed) (1999) Ethnicity & Democratisation in the New Europe, Routledge: London & New York, p.118.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Ibid., p.121.

[61] Ibid., p.123.

[62] Ibid., p.122.

[63] Esman, M.J. (1989) ‘Political and Psychological Factors in Ethnic Conflict’, in J.V. Montville (ed) Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies, Lexington Books: New York.

[64] Princen, T. (1992) Intermediaries in International Conflict, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.10.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid., p.217.

[67] Ibid., p.9.

[68] Starkey, B. Boyer, M.A. & Wilkenfeld J. (1999) Negotiating a Complex World: An Introduction to International Negotiation, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc: Oxford, p.1.

[69] Princen, T. (1992) Intermediaries in International Conflict, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, p.96.

[70] Ibid., p.98.

[71] Porter, J.N. & Taplin, R. (1987) Conflict and Conflict Resolution:  A Sociological Introduction, University Press of America: London,  p.80.

[72] Korten, D.C. (1992) Getting to the 21st Century: Voluntary Action and the Global Agenda, Kumarian PressInc: Connecticut, p.132.

[73] Kabeer in Guijt, I. And Kaul Shah, M. (1998) The Myth of Community: Gender issues in participatory development, Intermediate Technology Publications:  London, p.29.

[74] Thompson, N. (1998) Promoting Equality:  Challenging Discrimination and Oppression in the Human Services, MacMillan: London, p.46.

[75] Helmer, Joy (2001) Seeking the Roots of Terrorism: An ADR Response to International Acts of Violence. 25/05/01, http://www.mediate.com/articles/helmer.cfm.

[76] Bergall in Guijt, I. And Kaul Shah, M. (1998) The Myth of Community: Gender issues in participatory development, Intermediate Technology Publications:  London, p.24.