In this lesson, we’ll discuss multi-track diplomacy as a form of international conflict resolution.
The specific areas of focus include:
Multi-track diplomacy is a term that originated in the 1980s, and refers to bringing in sectors of society that are not officially government representatives to cultivate relationships in conflicting countries.
Originally, this was called track two diplomacy because these unofficial, non-government representatives were typically conflict resolution professionals who would go into a country to reduce conflict.
These professionals are not sanctioned by the state or by the government, so they are non-state actors who are going in to cultivate relationships in order to build and promote peace.
Track one would be formal diplomacy, which is conducted by state actors, or the formal representatives of nations and countries who facilitate diplomacy.
Peace treaties, trade agreements, or any type of official agreement (such as something our Secretary of State would do here in the United States) is considered formal diplomacy.
Over time, track two diplomacy became known as multi-track diplomacy because those involved recognized that additional tracks needed to be included.
Multi-track diplomacy and track two diplomacy are really the same thing, just different terms for involving all sectors of society in peacebuilding.
Although formal diplomacy allows for official action, such as signing a peace treaty or making a trade agreement, there are some issues that a formal agreement alone can’t solve.
If there’s a long-standing conflict between two countries in which animosity and negative attitudes between the parties run very deep, a formal agreement won’t change these perceptions.
People's perceptions and attitudes change over time, and they change by cultivating relationships with people from the conflicting party.
The idea behind multi-track diplomacy is to involve all sectors of society in the resolution process.
Business are one of these sectors. When business people from one country conduct business in a country with whom their nation is in conflict, these people have the opportunity to help to cultivate positive relationships.
This is also true of private citizens, religious groups, academic institutions, and the media. If journalists in one country get to know journalists in the other country, they can collaborate on an objective story about what’s really happening in the conflict.
Nonprofits are another sector. In particular, there is a nonprofit that fosters intergroup connection programs with youth. This organization actually brings youth from conflicting nations together in summer camp programs. These youth get to know one another, and when they return to their respective countries, they have different ideas about the people in the other country.
One contemporary example of a nonprofit effort born out of multi-track diplomacy is an Israel-based program called The Land Twice Promised that has brought Israeli and Palestinian youth together in dialogue. This program has so far been very successful. Again, the goal of multi-track diplomacy is to cultivate relationships between countries that are in conflict.
Another outcome of this kind of diplomacy might be something like a Truth and Reconciliation Council, the most well-known of which occurred in South Africa after the conflict there. The Truth and Reconciliation Council involved bringing in both sides of the conflict -- the black Africans and the white Africans -- to tell their stories of apartheid. After this, there was a period of healing through reparations.
Sometimes in countries that do this kind of peacebuilding and healing through storytelling after a war, there will be reparations in the form of payments made to a segment of the population that has experienced discrimination.
There may also be memorials that are set up so that the country won't forget what happened.
These are all ways to bridge the gap between people that have been in conflict, to learn what happened, to remember what happened, and to make restitution.
Bringing people together to talk about these issues will do a lot to promote and build positive relationships, and thus prevent this kind of conflict from happening again in the future.
Multi-track diplomacy, formerly known as track two diplomacy, is really a complement to formal diplomacy, or track one diplomacy, and aims to bring all sectors of society together to promote peace and reduce conflict.
In this lesson, you learned that the difference between multi-track diplomacy and formal diplomacy is that while formal diplomacy involves official agreements made by government or state actors, multi-track diplomacy is a form of conflict resolution in which non-state actors facilitate a dialogue between the conflicting countries by involving multiple sectors of society.
You now understand what multi-track diplomacy looks like in action: Different sectors, such as businesses, non-profits, academic institutions, or any other group within a society, use their own programs or methods to cultivate positive relationships between people from conflicting countries. In this way, multi-track diplomacy can be viewed as a complement to formal diplomacy.Good luck!
Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Marlene Johnson.
Cultivation of relationships between political states as conducted by those states’ official representatives.
A newer term for track-two diplomacy, which recognizes that different kinds of groups may influence relations between countries, cultures, or other groups.
A group that is not the official representative of a government but is involved in inter/intranational conflict as an intervener.
A formal, recognized nation or government that has official power to conduct diplomacy with other nations.
Cultivation of relationships between political states or cultures through the action of non-official/non-government groups cultivating their own relationships.