Conflict resolution package can be a brand leader worldwide


NEWTON'S OPTIC:DO YOU represent a foreign government or UN agency? Would you like to apply the lessons of Northern Ireland’s new Hillsborough Agreement to other conflict situations? Can you say “mainstreaming consociational de-escalation” in one real, one dead and one made-up language? Are you authorised to sign cheques?

If your answer to all of these questions is yes then you need the new Conflict Transformation Initiative from the University of Portadown (Lurgan Campus).

Since last week’s historic accord, our dedicated team of Peace Process Professors have been working around the clock to bring overseas customers the following six-point structured negotiating framework:

1. Identify Leaders

Find the leaders on each side who have earned the authority to make a deal, perhaps by killing everyone else who might have made an earlier deal.

You may have identified these leaders already, perhaps by helping them to kill everyone else who might have made an earlier deal. However, that is an issue for the Truth Recovery Process (available separately).

2. Identify Problems

Is there a particular problem which has become a sticking point for both sides but which everyone knows is not really that important? Something like the appointment of a litter commissioner or the devolution of jam-making and paperclips? Can the problem only be understood by going into mind-numbing technical detail on the Commission for Jam-Related Litter and the Paperclip Appointing Act of 1947?

A breakthrough on this type of issue will have huge symbolic significance, as that is the only way the media can be bothered to report it.

3. Identify Opportunities

Is there anything in the background of your chosen leaders which might make them more amenable to solving your chosen problem? For example, has anyone they know had inappropriate relations with a goat or other semi-domesticated animal? Have they or their spouse had unorthodox financial dealings with a cafe selling local ethnic delicacies, such as falafel, Rogan Josh or caramel squares?

4. Identify Solutions

Once you have identified the leaders, the problem and the opportunities, you have already identified the solution. However, you might still need to remind the leaders to take this opportunity to solve the problem. This is where the media can be useful, because everyone enjoys stories about goats and caramel squares.

5. Identify Sequences

It will obviously look a little suspicious if scandals about each leader break out almost simultaneously in the run-up to delicate negotiations. But the timing of this need not be suspicious at all. As soon as one side finds out about a scandal involving the other, gossip and media rivalry will inevitably force everything into the open, via decisions that individual journalists and politicians are absolutely certain they have taken more or less entirely by themselves.

6. Identify Success

Once the leaders have reached a solution, it is vital to congratulate them for their hard work and bravery. Heads of state and government should offer inspirational words of encouragement, such as “This is a momentous day for the people of (Disputed Region)”, “It is time for us all to move forward together”, and “Don’t forget, pal, we’ve still got a file on you a foot thick”.

The University of Portadown’s Conflict Transformation Initiative is available now, price £10 billion. Please allow up to 28 years for delivery