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<xTITLE>Letter To President Obama</xTITLE>

Letter To President Obama

by Kenneth Cloke
March 2009 Kenneth Cloke
Dear Mr. President:

Thank you. As conflict resolution professionals, practitioners and scholars, we have noticed and profoundly appreciate your efforts to change the process and tone of how differences are managed, both in Washington and around the world. We value your experience, understanding and commitment to conflict resolution, and offer our full support to you and your administration in your efforts to promote peace, collaboration, and consensus in domestic and international relations.

As of this morning, over 1200 mediators and conflict resolvers from around the world have signed a letter to you, many with individual comments, which can be accessed at

The letter reads:

Dear President Obama:

We, undersigned, are professional mediators, arbitrators, peacemakers, and dispute resolvers. We are writing to you and your new administration to encourage you to actively promote the use of conflict resolution in all your efforts to bring about change, and efforts to address the urgent economic, environmental, and health care crises we presently face.

Conflict resolution is a highly effective tool for resolving differences, encouraging collaboration, and supporting active participation in resolving sensitive problems respectfully. In times like these, people often seek to blame others, or act punitively, or feel helpless and hopeless about genuine change. Competent support for participants, in process toward resolution, makes a profound difference in the sustainability of their changing relationship.

We are writing to ask you to lead the world --not only by proposing new initiatives, but by making conflict resolution a priority in every aspect of the change process. . As conflict resolution professionals, we stand ready to serve you, and whoever needs our assistance in this effort. Wherever they may be located, and to assist you in finding creative new ways for people around the world to talk with each other and work together to solve these serious crises.

We applaud your efforts to engage all of us in rebuilding a global community. We offer you our service, as a human reserve of skilled and talented professionals, dedicated to authentic, healthy dialogue and to building peace at home and abroad. Based on our experience working with many diverse organizations worldwide, we propose that you promote the following five-point program:

1. Create a cabinet level ombudsman office or department of peace and consensus building to work proactively to prevent and minimize conflicts

2. Build mediation, consensus building, diversity, and democratic conflict resolution processes into every proposal for change, whether domestic or international

3. Invite representatives of international institutions, governments, and community organizations to attend a conference to discuss how to improve conflict resolution competencies and encourage collaborative problem solving around the world

4. Request that the United Nations initiate a global effort to train diplomats and national representatives in conflict resolution, and incorporate in all treaties a clause requiring signatories to mediate and arbitrate disputes.

5. Initiate a program and a fund to support conflict resolution professionals in serving in trouble spots around the world and help people prevent, resolve and recover from conflict.

Since the 1970’s, throughout the United States and around the world, innovative conflict resolution processes have been spreading. Hundreds of thousands of people have been educated and trained in conflict resolution. Young people are practicing conflict resolution skills as early as pre-school. New policies and procedures have been introduced to support collaborative approaches in both public and private sectors. Your election marks an important milestone in this process, and sets the stage for an even greater expansion in the use of conflict resolution processes, structures, and systems.

We are excited that as President of the United States you recognize the importance of the myriad ways of making talk work. It is in this spirit that we send you the attached letter, signed by hundreds of conflict resolution professionals, practitioners and scholars. We do so respectfully, knowing you have other priorities, yet wanting you to know how pleased and committed we are to the course of action you are pursuing and that we are ready to assist in any way we can.

With the deepest respect and sincerest thanks,

Kenneth Cloke,
on behalf of peace makers and conflict resolvers everywhere.


Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, consultant and trainer, specializing in resolving complex multi-party conflicts internationally and in designing conflict resolution systems for organizations. Ken is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author of many books and journal articles. He was a co-founder of Mediators Beyond Borders.

Ken is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author of many journal articles and several books, including Mediation: Revenge and the Magic of Forgiveness, The Crossroads of Conflict, The Dance of Opposites, and Mediating Dangerously: The Fontiers of Conflict Resolution.  His consulting and training practice includes organizational change, leadership, team building and strategic planning. He is a co-author with Joan Goldsmith of Thank God It's Monday! 14 Values We Need to Humanize The Way We Work, Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job, Resolving Personal and Organizational Conflict: Stories of Transformation and Forgiveness; The End of Management and the Rise of Organizational Democracy, and The Art of Waking People Up: Cultivating Awareness and Authenticity at Work. His latest book, Journeys into the Heart of Conflict was be published in 2015.

Ken received a B.A. from the University of California; a J.D. from U.C.'s Boalt Law School; a Ph.D. from UCLA; an LLM from UCLA Law School; and has done post-doctoral work at Yale Law School. He is a graduate of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. His university teaching includes law, mediation, history and other social sciences at a number of colleges and universities including Southwestern University School of Law, Southern Methodist University, Pepperdine University School of Law, Antioch University, Occidental College, USC and UCLA.

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