Authors Nahla Yassine-Hamdan & Frederic S Pearson take a little time to talk about their new book Arab Approaches to Conflict Resolution and why they wrote it!
This book examines Arab approaches to mediation, negotiation and settlement of political disputes.
Congratulations on the publication of your book Arab Approaches to Conflict Resolution! What led you to writing it?
The advent of the so called “Arab Spring” that promised democracy and prosperity in the Arab world has turned into a chaotic situation threatening regional and global security. It is within this context that we decided to study what accounts for the durability of peace agreements in the Arab world.
Can you describe your book in one sentence?
This book is about conflict management in the Arab world and how it compares to/differs from the non-Arab world
Tell us an unusual fact about yourself and your teaching.
Nahla: Students find me very approachable to the extent of telling me about their personal lives. I am a good listener and problem solver. My teaching methods rely on lot of group discussions for a good exercise in critical thinking and respecting different views of the same topic.
Fred: In a sense I am returning to my roots with this book as my PhD thesis had to do with complicated Middle Eastern conflict systems in which parties and powers are enmeshed in overlapping rivalries and collaborations. Writing our book reminded me that Middle East conflict can only be resolved by dealing simultaneously with factors at the national, regional, and global levels. In my teaching I like to employ role playing exercises for students so they see various parties’ perspectives in conflict situations.
What is your favourite example in the book?
Our favourite example is the prominent Muslim peacemaker, Dekha Ibrahim Abdi from the Wajir district of Kenya. She was very instrumental in promoting peace also in varied situations in northern Africa and brought to mind the often underappreciated potential and role for women in cross-cultural peacemaking.
What sparked your particular interest in conflict resolution?
Nahla: I grew up in Beirut/Lebanon and was an early teen when the brutal civil war erupted in 1975. I have to leave Lebanon and go to Kuwait, where my father works and live. The first question I asked how can people kill each other in the same country? Is there any hope to save innocent people from suffering? Shall I return back to Lebanon and when?
Fred: I experienced the field’s formative years as a student at the University of Michigan which housed the Center for Conflict Resolution and spawned the renowned Journal of Conflict Resolution. I realised that an interdisciplinary approach is essential to dealing with both the psycho-social and political dynamics of conflict.
Are there any relevant world issues that your book relates to at the moment?
Our book is very timely. The latest wars in Syria, Iraq and Gaza reflect the necessity of dealing with the roots of the conflict, with long term unresolved issues, power imbalances and unmet needs, and their implications for conflict management. We also provide up to date evaluation of regional organizations, such as the Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council, coming once again to some prominence in the region.
Is there one piece of research included in the book which really surprised you or challenged your previous understanding of the topic?
We did not realise how women as peace makers can impact the peace process, if given a chance to be at the negotiation table. Including both empirical data analysis and consideration of traditional Arab and Muslim cultural approaches, has allowed us to reveal the patterns that seem to distinguish Arab approaches from others’, patterns such as when and where it is important to utilise third party mediators of either indigenous or global stature.
Have you read any Routledge books? If so, which is your favourite Routledge book at the moment?
Our favourite book is Jacob Bercovitch: Theory and Practice of International Mediation: Selected Essays, 2011.
Do you have plans for future books? What’s next in the pipeline for you both?
We would like to study how NGOs mediation/negotiation styles differ from that of sovereign states and how these organizations interact in conflict management interventions. Multilateral approaches to conflict resolution are likely to be necessary to guarantee future peace agreements in the Middle East.
This book examines Arab approaches to mediation, negotiation and settlement of political disputes. This book proposes that two clusters of independent variables are potentially responsible for the distinctive nature of Arab conflict resolution. Firstly, those linked with Arab political regimes and...
Published 27th June 2014 by Routledge
This volume brings together some of the most significant papers on international conflict mediation by Professor Jacob Bercovitch, one of the leading scholars in the field. It has become common practice to note that mediation has been, and remains, one of the most important structures of dealing...
Published 23rd June 2014 by Routledge