John McDonald

Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Money is the first one, there's no question about that. It's a small not for profit and non-governmental organization, working only over seas. We don't have a base in this country except through our membership, which we have 1300 due paying members. We've gotten together over the last eleven years. We don't charge for our services overseas. We're working with people in conflict, so we have to raise the money someplace, and unfortunately after 9/11 it's particularly difficult.

Last year, 2002, in every foundation the drop was twenty-five percent, and there ???it in there income because the stock market problems. Several have dropped out totally of the field, like ???Foundation, and ???dropped out totally from international giving. Hewlett Foundation, which was our biggest funder, the only foundation in the country who gave money, non-project money, overhead cost and salaries and so forth. We wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for Hewlett's generosity. They have now decided, just some months ago, to stop funded anything international. ???is out of it, Mott,???for a little bit, Carnagie's totally out of it. McArthur and Ford were never in, so I mean the foundation world is very difficult now. Governments are very slow. We keep trying, but it's tough. We got funding for our work in Nepal from a German foundation, and we got some support earlier on for Cyprus from the Canadian AID organization, but I mean it's tough. That's the number one obstacle.

The number two obstacle we already talked about, and that is understanding on the part of Track I about what were trying to do. I believe there is a vacuum out there and we are designed as a world based on national sovereignty, and national sovereignty says that we can't go in as a nation state or as another nation state without their permission, otherwise it is an act of war. Now all the conflicts that we are talking about, and there are thirty-five in the world today, and more than a thousand people will be killed this year, are within national boundaries, there intra state, but were designed as a world to cope with inter state conflict, not designed to cope with intra state conflict because of national sovereignty. Basically we ignore most of the conflicts out there, we as a nation. We can only handle three at a time. Now were working intra Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Those other thirty-two conflicts we don't pay any attention to, they just go bubbling along at a low level, never on the radar screen. Well that is not my world.

You see, I don't want the world to continue in that way. I think we should strive for peace all over the world. All these little conflicts that are within national borders that were contained by those ten empires that ruled the world for the last hundred years, they kept the lid on conflict. Today nobody can do that because the nature of conflict has shifted, it is now internal, and national sovereignty guides all of it. I don't see governments recognizing this officially for another ten years or so because bureaucracies don't change. They avoid change wherever they can because it's a threat and they are afraid of change. That's across the world and the examples I've given you that are Track II ???that is a revolutionary document today is still true because that bureaucracy has not changed.

It's going to have to change because the world is changing and they have to catch up at some point. What happens is that these little NGOs like ourselves and like Search For Common Ground and others, we are trying to fill that vacuum in a small way. That's what we're all about, is trying to fill that vacuum and that's going to take a while to do. We're not going to be able to fill it, so governments at some point have to change their systems to recognize that they have to fill that vacuum, it's their responsibility for peace around the world.