The Third Side: The Referee

Setting Limits to Fighting

A Referee's Guide to the Beyond Intractability Website

  • When a fight breaks out are you likely to take measures to calm the situation?
  • If you see a potential weapon lying around when people are engaged in a destructive conflict, do you remove it?
  • If you see a disagreement happening on the street in front of you, are you likely to speak out and counsel the parties to settle their problems peaceably?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above questions, then you may be a referee. This Web page is designed to direct referees to information that they may find useful in their efforts to minimize the harmful effects of conflict.

Who are Referees?

Referees are those who try to change the way people fight and help to replace destructive methods and weapons with substantially less destructive approaches. Some fighting can be salutary. The benefits of conflict include its ability to clear the air and bring suppressed problems into sharp focus. However, conflict can also have terrible costs. With no limits set on what methods and weapons can be used, conflict may result in warterrorismgenocidewar crimes, and other human rights violations. There are certain things that should simply never be done. The role of the referee is to reduce any harm brought about by conflict by setting limits on which tactics and weapons are allowed.

For More Information

Much of the material on this user guide is drawn from Thanks to William Ury and Joshua Weiss for giving us permission to republish their material here.