Leading Peace

Mari Fitzduff

Professor and Director of the MA Conflict and Coexistence Programme at Brandeis University

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 ???).

Our work in leadership was also fascinating because it'll tell you things like Sharon thinks he wants a weak Arafat. In fact, what he needs is a strong Arafat who can deliver. Similarly, Arafat needs somebody strong on the other side, whereas leaders always make the opposite assumption. Also leaders actually have to help each other because each side is going to feel they're being sold out. So the problem with us was Jerry Adams kept thinking he had a harder job than David Trimble. David Trimble kept thinking he had a harder job than Jerry Adams, instead of them both realizing they needed to sell this compromise together.

So a lot of the leadership we would use also to inform, as it were, our decisions. We'd be called in at the security council in Israel, you know looking at diversity management , and Israel thinks it's the only one with problems just as internally as it was with the border stuff. In fact the internal will become even more important when the border is sorted out because what will happen will be the differences within Israel are going to become probably much more to the fore....One thing I was very proud of was that in our own case, the British government would commission us and say, look, victims is a problem that's coming up now. Can you do a piece for us on victims around the world and the way in which governments are dealing with them so that we can learn from the best practices in South Africa or Guatemala or wherever.

So we very much use the international to inform the local on the basis that people who are in conflict often think there is nowhere else like them. They feel their problems are not replicated elsewhere, but there is enormous learning. Every conflict is different, but every conflict has also usually got something to offer to different parts of the world....So what we try and do is the best learning in the field, and bring it to bear on different conflicts.

...It's what we call a knowledge intervention....

The final thing, I think is actually that learning from the international was hugely important for us. Our folk could often take many things from people who had been elsewhere. So we learned an enormous amount from, for instance, South Africa. To a certain extent the United States, in terms of some of their legal policies to do with diversity and race was also extremely important. So, we have found that we have become very important in terms of all of our processes to elsewhere. Because it is less threatening when you realize that these are problems that are shared elsewhere, and there are ways that other people are developing that actually can make it a lot easier for you in terms of where you're going.