Frames in Conflict Zones

Pamela Aall

Director of the Education Program at the United States Institute of Peace

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 ???).

In fact, it's often true that conflicts are very, very badly taught or they might teach other conflicts in a great way but they teach in a terrible way about their own conflict because they are dealing with probably a lack of information. And they are also dealing with the kinds of prejudices that you know float around in the background in everybody's life.

Q: And when you say terrible understanding of a conflict or good understanding of a conflict the criteria for those are what?

A: Well, you know it is very analytical. I mean I don't think you will ever get away from the fact that you will have a point of view no matter who you are. But to at least understand the parties, who the parties are, to be able to articulate what each of those parties interests and their needs, if you want to be sort of very simplistic about it, you know what is their stand, to understand the role that perhaps the neighbors are playing in this conflict. To be at least able to articulate what the other side wants and needs and resents and you know and plans.

Q: In terms of other than they want to kill us or they want to drive us out to the sea?

A: Or they are bad.

Q: Or they are bad.

A: They are bad! You know, they are wrong, they are bad. So it is that kind of thing. Now, you know, frankly I don't think as I said any of us escape our own environments. We are not saying that you have to be neutral about a conflict, because I think it is very difficult even for third parties who come in to be neutral about a conflict. But at least be able to articulate it in ways, in dispassionate ways that may reflect also some of the other side's thinking.