This volume presents peacebuilding initiatives that engage local leaders from opposing sides in intensive interactive workshops, comparing six cases from small, ethnically divided countries—Burundi, Cyprus, Estonia, Guyana, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan. All six initiatives were guided by outside third parties who worked to enhance interpersonal cohesion and ability to collaborate among local leaders and other actors.

The countries have all experienced communal conflicts in recent years. In Estonia and Guyana, the initiatives aimed at warding off violence; in Burundi and Sri Lanka, the initiatives focused on ending ongoing hostilities; and in Cyprus and Tajikistan, the initiatives sought to build peace after violence had come to an end.

The chapters follow a systematic assessment framework, including a common set of questions for interviewing participants, to prepare comparable results from a set of diverse cases. Their findings assess the successes and failures of this particular approach to conflict resolution, and draw conclusions about the conditions under which such interactive approaches work, as well as about the audience and the methodologies used.

This work represents research conducted in conjunction with the Working Group on Preventing and Rebuilding Failed States, convened by the Wilson Center’s Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity.

Michael Lund is senior specialist for conflict and peacebuilding at Management Systems International Inc. and was consulting program manager to the Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity at the Wilson Center. Steve McDonald is a Global Fellow and former director of the Africa Program at the Wilson Center.


Figures and Tables

Lee Hamilton

Steve McDonald


Part One: Approaching the Subject
1. Intrastate Conflicts and the Problem of Political Will
Michael Lund
2. Nonofficial Conflict Resolution and Sustainable Peace: Theory of Practice
Michael Lund

Part Two: Assessing Country Cases
Averting Conflict Escalation
3. Estonia: Psychopolitical Dialogue for Conflict Prevention
Susan H. Allen
4. Guyana: Can Dialogues Change the Course of a Nation?
Michael Lund

Ending Active Conflicts
5. Tajikistan: Peace Secured, but the State of Our Dreams?
Anna Matveeva
6. Sri Lanka: When Negotiations Fail—Talks for the Sake of Talks, War for the Sake of Peace
Hannes Siebert

Transcending Past Conflicts
7. Cyprus: The Harvard Study Group—Contributions to an Unfulfilled Peace Process
Diana Chigas
8. Burundi: The Burundi Leadership and Training Program
Susanna Campbell and Peter Uvin

Part Three: Findings and Implications
9. Learning from the Cases: Impacts and Explanations
Michael Lund
10. Contemporary Implications: From Trust-Building to Institution-Building
Michael Lund


“This is a rigorous and balanced assessment that should be of considerable interest to practitioners and their sponsors and funders.”—Chester A, Crocker, James R. Schlesinger Professor of Strategic Studies, Georgetown University

“This work is a fitting memorial to the deep engagement of Howard Wolpe in his pursuit of a new paradigm—trust-building. Wolpe believed that to make peace, one should get the people who can make war, at all levels, to relate to each other as human beings; that is, as equals. The pursuit of dialog and communality in many places is recorded here, honestly even when it failed, analytically to find out how and why.”—I. William Zartman, Jacob Blaustein Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Organization and Conflict Resolution, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

“This is an important and path-breaking book. It offers an original framework for assessing the influence of conflict resolution in societies in conflict and six excellent case studies. At once visionary and measured, it will be of great value to students, scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and all concerned with how conflict resolution works out in practice.”—Hugh Miall, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University of Kent

“This book charts new territory in its structured approach to understanding whether it is possible to build up will among host country or society leaders to take on peacebuilding roles, and if so, how. It focuses on leadership engagement, an element that has long been recognized as essential to peace processes.”—Pamela Aall, United States Institute of Peace

“Specialists will look to this book for evidence of past success and failure, and for guidance on future projects.”—Anthony Wanis-St. John, American University