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Shuttle Diplomacy as a Conflict Resolution Process

Shuttle Diplomacy as a Conflict Resolution Process

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

Compare and contrast shuttle diplomacy and conciliation as conflict resolution processes.

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Tutorial
what's covered
There are many different methods of conflict resolution. Today, we'll look at one of these methods, shuttle diplomacy, in more detail.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. Shuttle diplomacy as a conflict resolution process
  2. How shuttle diplomacy differs from conciliation


1. SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY AS A CONFLICT RESOLUTION PROCESS

Shuttle diplomacy was coined as a term in the early 1970s by Henry Kissinger.

term to know
Shuttle Diplomacy
A conflict resolution process used when parties cannot meet in person, due to distance or discomfort.

did you know
Henry Kissinger served as the U.S. Secretary of State as well as the National Security Advisor under the Nixon and Ford presidential administrations. He coined the term "shuttle diplomacy" when he was attempting to end the Yom Kippur War.

Photo of Henry Kissinger in 2009.
Photo of Henry Kissinger in 2009.

Since that time, those in the field of conflict resolution have adapted the term to describe the process used when parties cannot meet in person due to distance or discomfort. Additionally, in certain instances, direct communication between the disputing parties can be counterproductive. By removing this element, the intermediary can help move the conflict toward a resolution more effectively.

Thus the “shuttle” aspect refers to the process of moving back and forth between the two parties, which is what Henry Kissinger did in his attempt to end the war.

IN CONTEXT

Imagine that you have two teenage children who are in a very heated argument about who gets to use the car this weekend. When they argue about this topic face-to-face, no progress is made. They yell over one another and can only see their own side of the conflict. You can see that there is no way they will consider the other's view point or come to a compromise without your help. So, you send them each to a separate part of the house and act as the intermediary to help them come to a resolution.


When serving as a liaison between the two parties, the conflict resolver’s role in shuttle diplomacy is to carry:

  • Messages
  • Requests
  • Proposals
  • Questions

By communicating this tangible information from one party to another, the conflict resolver helps the parties reach a solution.


2. HOW SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY DIFFERS FROM CONCILIATION

This process might sound a bit like conciliation, which is another conflict resolution process we discuss in this course.

term to know
Conciliation
A conflict resolution process in which the conflict resolver meets privately with each party to the dispute, seeking to gain concessions from each party.

In this process of conciliation, the conciliator moves between parties in separate meeting rooms or separate buildings, which seems very similar to the role of the conflict resolver in shuttle diplomacy.

However, the major difference is that conciliation focuses both the tangible issues (messages, questions, etc.) mentioned above and non-tangible issues, such as:

  • Emotions
  • Communication

In conciliation, these non-tangible issues are also addressed by the conciliator, whereas they’re not necessarily taken into consideration in shuttle diplomacy. Shuttle diplomacy is mainly concerned with the tangible issues discussed above.

big idea
Shuttle diplomacy and conciliation are similar in that they both work with parties in separate locations when it is impractical, impossible, and sometimes even potentially dangerous for the parties to come together. These process differ in that conciliation deals with both tangible and non-tangible issues, and shuttle diplomacy focuses solely on the tangible.


summary
In this lesson, you learned about shuttle diplomacy as a conflict resolution process that was started by Henry Kissinger in the early 1970s. You now understand how shuttle diplomacy differs from conciliation: Although both processes provide mediation for parties who cannot meet in the same location, conciliation focuses on both tangible and non-tangible issues, while shuttle diplomacy is primarily concerned with tangible issues.

Good luck!

Source: Image of Henry Kissinger, CC, 2009 http://bit.ly/2wssmXR

Terms to Know
conciliation

A conflict resolution process in which the conflict resolver meets privately with each party to the dispute, seeking to gain concessions from each party.

shuttle diplomacy

A conflict resolution process used when parties cannot meet in person, due to distance or discomfort.