Main Obstacles

Sanda Kaufman

Professor of Planning and Public Administration at the Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State 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 ???).

Q: What do you think are the main obstacles for people involved in this kind of work?

A: I think that one major obstacle is the feeling that if we just used our conflict management tools and approach them in the best possible way, and had the resources and the access, that's all it would take. And in intractable conflicts, typically, it's not all in how we do the conflict management. It's very often in the political constellation, the international situation, economics, moments in history, sometimes personalities. If we do not reckon with all those factors, we are likely to fail and be baffled because we thought everything was in our hands if we just did it right, and that actually isn't true. So I think we can do a lot, but we need to be humble and figure out how much, all told, we can actually contribute to a situation, and how much is in somebody else's hands. Maybe if we could have influence or approach these other important decision makers or factors; that would help. But we typically don't do that, and I think that's an obstacle.