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<xTITLE>Interventions for Intractable Conflict: Peacemaking in a Tit for Tat World</xTITLE>

Interventions for Intractable Conflict: Peacemaking in a Tit for Tat World

by Victoria Pynchon
June 2007

From Settle It Now Negotiation Blog

Victoria Pynchon

Last week, along with my extern, Pepperdine Law School and Straus ADR student Cameron Mitchell, and my friend, the actor, musician, and singer-songwriter Lisa Douglass, I presented an Improv Seminar on Peacemaking in a Tit for Tat World using Baz Luhrman's hypnotic Romeo + Juliet as a jumping off point. 

The Seminar was sponsored by the L.A. County Bar Association's Dispute Resolution Services and the SCMA's Salon Series.  Thanks to Kathryn Turk of the West Hollywood Community Mediation Center and Jan Schau, President of the SCMA for the opportunity and facilities to host the Salon.

This is one the scenes we used to demonstrate how dangerous peacemaking can be in the absence of conflict resolution skills, particularly in response to an intractable conflict where communication is non-existent or diminished, the conflict itself is ritualized and celebrated, and extreme positions encouraged, as we see here, resulting in Mercutio's death.

We used an excerpt of Ken Cloke's article Mediators Without Borders: A Proposal to Resolve Political Conflicts as a teaching tool and many in attendance asked for the text.  I've therefore summarized the important points we covered at the seminar and linked to the article above.

Five Strategies for Intervention in an Intractable Conflict

  1. actively encourage the open expression of the rage and grief stirred up by the conflict in a context that is constructive and oriented to resolution and reconciliation, such as that used by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 
  2. dismantle the prejudices and stereotypes of the “enemy” through a combination of bias awareness, storytelling, dialogue, collaborative negotiation, and strategic planning techniques.
  3. develop skills within local neighborhoods and communities in group facilitation, public dialogue, strategic planning, collaborative negotiation, and peer mediation.
  4. encourage forgiveness and reconciliation by creating openhearted communications and direct dialogues between former antagonists.
  5.  institutionaliz[e] these skills so that future conflicts can be resolved without coercion or violence.

More on all of this later next week.


Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all types of business torts and contract disputes.  During her two years of full-time neutral practice, she has co-mediated both mandatory and voluntary settlement conferences with Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Alexander Williams, III and Victoria Chaney.  As a result of her work with Judge Chaney in the Complex Court at Central Civil West, Ms. Pynchon has gained significant experience mediating construction defect litigation.  Ms. Pynchon received her J.D., Order of the Coif, from the U.C. Davis School of Law. 

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