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Egypt and the Impulse to Intervene

Tahrir Square

Tahrir Square

As it happens, I just finished the classroom portion of a course in conflict analysis for the graduate Dispute Resolution degree program at Southern Methodist University.  The class used the generic “Israel/Palestine” conflict as the basis for the exercise in conflict analysis, partly because it offers such a rich and diverse set of problems and relationships, and partly because SMU’s “safety office” had vetoed a study abroad course in Israel and Palestine for this summer.  The trip was not, they thought, safe.

The day of the last SMU class meeting was June 30, the day the demonstrations in Egypt that have led to Mr. Morsi’s ouster began.  If I had been prescient enough to know what was going to happen there, perhaps I’d have used Egypt as the example for analysis.

The United States has not covered itself with glory with its role in either the Israel/Palestine situation or the Egyptian situation.  One of the guests from Israel who joined the class by Skype responded to a question about the U.S.’s role in bringing peace to the area as, “useless.”  Interestingly, the same guest, in a sentiment echoed by other guests from both sides of the border, thought it would take some bold outside action to get any movement.  So, we could help, but we haven’t, at least from the perspective of some academics and politicians in the area.  We’ve done no better in Egypt over the past two years, and there’s no reason to expect a sudden burst of competence now.

I have an interest in Egypt on a number of levels.  For any conflict engagement practitioner it offers an interesting and urgent case for work on Track I, Track II, and Track III levels, so there is a certain theoretical pull from the events there and the discussions about how to help . . . or at least not harm.  On another level, I have a friend and colleague in Cairo, with an office near Tahrir Square, and my most direct interest in the current unrest is the hope that he and his family are safe and will remain so.

When the first revolution was brewing in Egypt, back in early 2011, I was with a group of executives from some major U.S. corporations, all of whom were scared that the revolution in Egypt would lead to a “radical Islamic” state that would further destabilize the area and pose yet another threat to the U.S.  My attitude at the time was that the officer corps in the Egyptian Army was so heavily invested in U.S. aid and in the business infrastructure of the country that they would simply not allow that to happen.  I have not felt foolish about that statement, either in the immediate aftermath of the revolution or in recent days.  What will happen in Egypt on a micro level in the near future is anybody’s guess.  What is not in doubt is that many well-meaning practitioners of conflict engagement will want to go there to “help” the situation on many levels.  I hope all of them are sensitive to the local knowledge about what is best for Egyptians and how they need to manage their conflict, but I’m not optimistic about that.

 

07
Jul 2013
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International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution

Eleven Logo

At the 12th Annual ODR Forum in Montreal, we announced the launch of a new international journal – The International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution.

I will be one of the co-editors-in-chief, along with Ethan Katsh and Mohamed Abdel Wahab, and the journal will be published by Eleven International Publishing, the publisher of ODR Theory and Practice.  We are in the process of establishing an editorial board and a roster of outside expert reviewers, and we are working to establish cooperative agreements with academic institutions to manage submissions, reviews, etc.

To see the announcement from Eleven, click here:  IJODR  –  more information regarding submissions and publication dates will follow soon.

19
Jun 2013
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Israel and the Occupied Territory of Palestine

In July of 2013, SMU will offer a revised version of the Israel/Palestine study abroad course.  This time, instead of looking at trauma and long term conflict, the class will focus on community disputes and “social” disputes at the Track II and local levels on both sides of the border.  The class will meet from July 7-15, 2013, in Jerusalem, Acre, Tel Aviv, and Bethlehem.  I will lead the class, starting with a weekend session at SMU to set the stage for the community mediation centers, mediators, and other dispute resolvers with whom the class will interact in Israel and Palestine.  The attached draft agenda has the tentative schedule and cost, and contact information for the SMU Dispute Resolution program office.  Click here for the tentative schedule:  Israel-Palestine Class.

 

10
Oct 2012
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ABA Task Force

I recently joined a task force formed by the International Committee of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution.  The Task Force on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Complex Dispute Resolution was formed at the recent ABA Section meeting in Washington, DC, and is co-chaired by Larry Bridgesmith of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee,  and Ross Sydney, owner of Mediate Today, in Canberra, Australia.  The mission statement for the task force is posted here:  ABA – TARGETTED MISSION STATEMENT FOR THE TASK FORCE ON INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES TO COMPLEX DISPUTE RESOLUTION.

04
Oct 2012
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Online Dispute Resolution Degree

Next week the second group of new graduate students will begin the online dispute resolution Masters Degree offered by Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.  The program begins with an intensive five-day mediation skills course taught by two of my NMB colleagues and me as part of a cooperative agreement with Dominican.  For more information about the program, go to the Dominican University web site.

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ABA Dispute Resolution Week

The ABA’s Section of Dispute Resolution Mediation Week for 2012 will be from October 14-20, 2012.  The theme for the week this year is “Mediation in the Mainstream:  From the Courthouse to the Conference Room.”

As part of the Mediation Week activities at Creighton University, the Werner Institute (housed in the Creighton School of Law) will host an evening session on Wednesday, October 17, at which I will be the featured speaker.  I haven’t decided how to approach the idea of mainstreamed mediation, but I’ll come up with something, and I’ll post the gist of my comments on this blog on the 17th.

In the meantime, for more information about Mediation Week, go to the ABA Mediation Week web page, and the Werner Institute web page.

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