Seeing the Value of Conflict Resolution

Mohammed Abu-Nimer

Professor of Peace and Conflict Resolution at the School of International Service, American University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: The nature of my work, or our work, is in this field you basically have many of these so called transformative moments where actually you get some sustainability out of them.. I guess I could talk about various places, it is not such much a moment, it is the process that takes place. One of the stories that stuck with me is in 1994 is when I was working in Gaza with a staff of American facilitors with me and we were conducting our first conflict resolution training in Arabic. There was no material in Arabic at all, and so we were basically the first to introduce the subject in the Middle East in general. In Gaza, during that time, it was the post-Oslo period and I have had a group of Palestinians who were receptive, but there was also a group of people who were very critical and challenged almost every concept and base. They had some accusation that we were with the CIA, or that we were outsiders trying to make them collaborate with Israel without getting any concessions. Four years later these four counselors became the first to create a conflict resolution in Gaza and called it the Palestinian Community Dispute Resolution Program, they have a staff of twenty-five people and they have curriculums in Arabic. They have twenty-five schools owned by the UN that run peer-mediation every year. They have trained hundreds of teachers. It took about four or five years of work, but it was particularly inspiring to me.