The ACR Board of Directors has adopted a statement in February declaring the importance of non-violent conflict resolution skills and processes ? emphasizing the importance of widespread dialogue regarding public policies. ?We are not calling for any pre-determined outcome other than decisions informed by dialogue. ACR believes that such profoundly significant and far?reaching decisions as these deserve a more engaged, public and authentic dialogue.? Go to www.acresolution.org to view and give feedback on this statement, or click ?read more info? below to read the entire statement. Who else is calling for dialogue? How can we help make this happen?
The following policy statement was adopted by the Board of Directors of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) in February 2003.
In the wake of the tragic events of September 11 and the subsequent threats of war, the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) believes it is important to affirm the importance of non-violent conflict resolution skills and processes. Dialogue regarding public policy is among those processes. As a membership association committed to educational activities that promote peaceful, effective conflict resolution, both nationally and internationally, ACR believes that it is critical to engage in a dialogue that will encourage different perspectives to be voiced, that will foster genuine listening, and that will identify the deeply held points of agreement and difference that exist.
The policies of the United States and some of its allies, and indeed people's consciousness about security, democracy, and international relationships, have undergone profound changes since the events of September 11, 2001. Among the public policy questions that deserve dialogue are:
- International terrorism as a threat to security and well being;
- Emphasis on homeland security;
- Weapons of mass destruction;
- US participation in international efforts in such areas as environmental problem-solving, human rights tribunals, and international criminal courts;
- Changes in policies and regarding civil liberties and rights to privacy;
- The battle against terrorism being defined as a war without a clearly defined enemy;
- Due process protection for suspected belligerents;
- Profiling and bias against internationals, particularly Muslims;
- Impact of media representations on the above understandings.
During the coming year, many more critical decisions about war, civil liberties, and international security will be made. ACR is deeply concerned because these changes have not had the benefit of a genuine national conversation. ACR believes that it is extremely important to begin such a conversation, so that policy changes be informed by the different perspectives that exist. Our business involves bringing together people with profound differences about important issues and encouraging constructive dialogue, communication, and (when appropriate) consensus building. We believe such processes are critical during these difficult times.
ACR's members have a great diversity of viewpoints concerning the substance of these policy questions, but we are not calling for any pre-determined outcome other than decisions informed by dialogue. ACR believes that such profoundly significant and far?reaching decisions as these deserve a more engaged, public and authentic dialogue.
ACR proposes that a series of carefully organized and well run multi-level discussions and forums be developed. These might include:
- A series of local, regional, and national town-hall meetings;
- Facilitated round-table discussions among people with different perspectives and expertise;
- University or school-based programs which would include students, faculty, outside experts; ongoing discussions and projects, and special events;
- Moderated Internet based discussions;
- Interchanges among people at different levels of policy making, from all branches of government, with citizens from a variety of countries.
The outcome of these efforts would be a deeper consideration of the issues and a fuller understanding of different points of view. Through such a series of conversations, Americans and others would face the difficult choices presented to us with greater wisdom, a clearer sense of how to maintain and apply our core values, and a more profound commitment to new approaches to global conflict. Although at this particular time, we are particularly concerned about national policy decisions made by the U.S., we believe that the more general concern is valid elsewhere as well. When highly significant policy decisions are being considered, the initiation of serious public dialogues about them is an important aspect of genuine democracy. We urge our leaders, the media and citizens to encourage, indeed to insist upon, such a process and to dedicate public resources to initiate these conversations.
ACR believes that failure to engage in a more serious national and international discussion of these issues will ultimately hurt citizens of the United States and the world population. ACR and its members stand ready to work with governmental and private organizations to design and conduct a series of creative, frank, difficult, rich, and productive public conversations on these issues.