Reading Assignment:

Matthews, Roger, "Reassessing Informal Justice," Informal Justice, Sage, Newbury Park, 1988, pp.1-24.

Bush, Robert A. Baruch and Joseph P. Folger, "Transformative Mediation and Third-Party Intervention: Ten Hallmarks to a Transformative Approach to Practice," Mediation Quarterly, Summer 1996, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 263-278.

Burton, John, and Frank Dukes, Conflict: Practices in Management, Settlement, and Resolution, pp. 119-209.

Burgess, Guy and Heidi Burgess, "Constructive Confrontation: A Practical Approach to Intractable Conflict for Adversaries and Intermediaries," Conflict Research Consortium Working Paper #96-1.


Unit #4 focuses upon the most difficult class of conflicts with a series of readings which address some of the toughest questions facing the field. The first paper, by Matthews, raises important questions, about the quality of justice provided by alternative dispute resolution processes. It helps to emphasize the point that justice, not resolution for the sake of resolution, should be the primary focus of conflict resolution processes. The Bush and Folger paper indirectly addresses Matthews' concerns about justice by suggesting that resolution should not be the primary goal of mediation (and, by implication, related techniques). Instead, they believe that it should be to transform relationship between the parties into one that is more constructive (even though it may still be conflictual.)

The third section of the Burton/Dukes book focuses on situations where the parties need to address the underlying causes of conflict and, especially, the fact that many of the most difficult conflicts result from a failure of society to meet the most fundamental human needs of the parties. Also addressed are large scale international conflicts and tensions between racial, ethnic, and other social groups. The book's final section addresses the topics of provention (as distinct from prevention) and education. Here the focus is on long-term efforts to remove the source of conflict in the first place. You are also asked to read a useful appendix providing a detailed description of how to implement facilitated conflict resolution procedures.

The intractable conflict/constructive confrontation paper assumes that there are some long-running conflicts which cannot be resolved by any agreement-based process. In other words, continuing confrontation is inevitable. What this paper argues is that there is still much that can be done to reduce the destructiveness of these inevitable confrontations.

NOTE: The readings for this unit also offer a variety of perspectives on these difficult issues, with many key terms used in different ways by different authors. You will have to read carefully to avoid these possible sources of confusion.

Writing Assignment (To be submitted for evaluation):


This assignment follows the same pattern that we used for Units #1, #2 and #3. You are again asked to first select a real world conflict problem. This time, however, you need to pick a difficult, intractable conflict which is unlikely to be amendable to agreement-based resolution. As with the last assignment, you should feel free to use any case that you want as the foundation for this assignment (except for the examples used in the readings). Examples of the kinds of cases that you might wish to address include the following:

Develop a plan for the police department to use in constructively dealing with a series of protests expected at the local abortion clinic.

Develop a strategy a strategy for improving relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Develop a plan for dealing with racial tensions on a university campus or neighbor.

You are then asked to describe exactly how the Ury's approach could be applied to the your case. It is important that you write clearly and succinctly producing a position paper of about 2500 words.

The Regents of the University of Colorado
All Rights Reserved