Faith Opens New Avenues for International Diplomacy

By Witham, Larry | Insight on the News, February 6, 1995 | Go to article overview

Faith Opens New Avenues for International Diplomacy

Witham, Larry, Insight on the News

At a time when nations have increasingly divergent interests, independent mediators -- often motivated by religious beliefs -- are stepping forward to negotiate peace in trouble spots worldwide.

Mexican Catholic Bishop Samuel Ruiz, thin from a fast for peace, M walked into the Lacadbib jungle last week to restart talks between armed rebels and the government.

Since June, former President Carter has eased tensions in North Korea, Haiti and, perhaps, Bosnia.

And last year, Norwegian researcher Mary Anne Heiberg lived in the West Bank to study the living conditions of Arabs and Jews -- and helped start a historic peace process.

All three were on a sort of mission that has started attracting interest in the post-cold War era, when so many regional conflicts are caught in grueling -- or deadly -- stalemates. Motivated by religion and their work for peace, they became mediators when governments could find no process that worked.

"As the world sees more and more intractable conflicts, these kinds of activities are going to get more attention " says Gail Presberg, Washington director of Americans for Peace Now, a Jewish group promoting Middle East peace.

This quiet and often invisible realm of international affairs has long been known as conflict resolution, an art that includes special institutes, training and techniques for persuading enemies to talk rather than fight. In foreign-policy theory, it is called Track II diplomacy -- Track I diplomacy being government-to-government.

The largely unknown story of Heiberg, an academic with the Norwegian peace institute known as FAFO, is perhaps one of the more dramatic recent examples of how an unofficial Track II led to a formal Track I. During her stint on the West Bank, she and a coworker became part of a network with two Haifa University professors that persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat to meet secretly in a Norwegian country mansion in late 1993. By that point, the stakes were so high that the Norwegian government stepped in as mediator. A month later in Oslo, Rabin and Arafat announced a peace accord.

Such grassroots mediation has long been a part of world affairs, says Douglas Johnston, executive vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, and head of its Religion and Conflict Resolution Project. But it has gone unnoticed -- and uncredited -- because, for the most part, the players were lowkey and operated confidentially.

The big minds of international affairs, who pay more attention to political and military clout, hardly imagine that local mediation can rattle the world order. "Now it's time to take a hard look at other aspects in life and in international affairs," says Johnston. "What we are doing is no less than making a case for a new paradigm for international relations."

Seven years ago, Johnston, who has worked for the Navy, Harvard University and the Pentagon, was offered the job of chief operating officer of CSIS. He accepted on the condition that he be allowed to launch a project documenting the "positive role that religious or spiritual factors can play in actually pacifying or resolving conflict, while advancing positive social change."

It has taken since then to focus the idea; recruit funding; assemble a steering committee of world-class scholars and practitioners from a range of disciplines; and complete the case studies in nations as disparate as East Germany, South Africa and Nicaragua. The project also produced a set of principles and a book titled Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft, published in August by Oxford University Press and already in its third printing -- its success due in part to its association with the hard-nosed, military-minded CSIS.

"That was the angle that was rather innovative," says David Little, a religion and human-rights expert at the U. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Faith Opens New Avenues for International Diplomacy


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.