Good Offices in a War-Weary World

TitleGood Offices in a War-Weary World
Publication TypeAudiovisual
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsSusskind, L, le Ferenze, M
PublisherThe Consensus Building Institute and the Program on Negotiation
Keywordsconflict, Conflict Management, Conflict Resolution, conflict resolution method, conflict resolution methods, conflicts, consensus, consensus building, consensus building institute, diplomacy, dispute, harvard law, harvard law school, HNI, international conflict, Lawrence Susskind, negotiate, negotiation, program on negotiation, program on negotiation at harvard law school, roger fisher

An exploration of the role of "good offices" providers in long-standing, complex conflicts

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Since the end of the Cold War, ethnic animosity, unresolved sovereignty claims, and persistent poverty have unleashed renewed violence in dozens of simmering conflicts — creating more pressure than ever to find improved conflict resolution methods. The Consensus Building Institute and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School have identified “good offices” as a particular type of third-party engagement in hot disputes that deserves closer study because it stands out as one of the most viable and least controversial methods of intervention.

A “good offices” provider is a person or organization of some standing that provides a physically and psychologically safe setting for the facilitation of negotiation. The provider’s role is to try to help the parties “get to readiness” to negotiate by correcting misperceptions, clarifying issues, and facilitating communication. The good offices provider might be an outside neutral or a group of stakeholders; in either case, an effective good offices provider represents a strong principle or process.

Rich with examples and commentary from experts in the field of public dispute resolution, this video explores the nature, functions, benefits, and potential of the “good offices” role. Speakers include Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Roger Fisher, MIT Professor Lawrence Susskind, and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Professor Eileen Babbit, as well as distinguished representatives from international conflict management, peacemaking, and aid organizations.