Scaling Up from Small-Group Processes

Herb Kelman

Professor Emeritus, Program on Negotiation, Harvard 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 ???).

But this new group that we started in '94, here the explicit purpose was to come up with joint documents. Everything was kept confidential and no attribution up until the final point, they had the right to say no, if they didn't want to sign the document, they weren't committed to it, but if they did the work that they had agreed to do, ultimately their names would be known and that affected the process. Obviously that's a trade-off because by going public we were able to, hopefully, have some impact. Also it contributes something to the debate and thinking and so on. We came up with three papers that were published, and we actually had a fourth paper, which was very close to completion but then overtaken by events. So that was the look of the '90s. We started in 1990, and in 1991 the official process began with the Madrid conference and the Washington meetings, and then the Oslo Agreement, so the '90s were a new experience. The '70s and '80s were all pre-negotiation. The '90s, to a considerable degree, were para-negotiations. We were meeting at the unofficial, track II level while official meetings were already beginning to go on and continuing to go on with all of their ups and downs. My new challenge now is how to make this approach useful-I wish it would have been post-negotiations where you focus on peacebuilding, well, you focus on implementation and peacebuilding, but unfortunately in my conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian case, we are in the phase of broken-down negotiations. I'm continuing to work and to see what we can do and I've had a few activities since 2000, the breakdown, effectively in 2000. I've had three meetings of one kind or another.