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Kings of Peace, Pawns of War: The untold story of peace-making Hardcover – 1 Jul 2006
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"Few professions are more needed today -- and less understood -- than the job of an international conflict mediator. Harriet Martin's vivid story-telling helps us get inside the minds and hearts of six master mediators so we can learn what they do, why they do it, how they fail, and how they succeed. A wonderful read - I recommend it highly!"
William Ury, co-author "Getting to Yes" and author, The "Third Side." --,
"Building on theauthor's conversations with six mediators, members of their teams andrepresentatives of the parties they have worked with in Iraq, Cyprus, Aceh, SriLanka and Sudan, this book offers a unique glimpse into the secluded world ofinternational peacemaking.... While contributing to an understanding of theeveryday trials and tribulations of mediation in track-one peacemaking, a worldwhere glamour appears conspicuously absent, Martin's book also invites reflectionson the nature of peace processes.... Unwittingly or not, Martin's fascinatingbook lends support to the contention that mediation is as much an art as ascience..."- Ann-Sofi Jakobsson Hatay, "Journalof Peace and Research, "Vol. 44 No. 1 January 2007--,
"As an academic who is interested in the field of conflict resolution, I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to review this book. The book is well written and interesting and contains fine analytical thinking about her interviews and other material she selected concerning the mediations she discusses in her book. Her narratives are excellent, thoughtful narratives by a knowledgeable journalist with access to the mediators whose mediations she discusses."--Sanford Lakoff
"Few professions are more needed today and less understood than the job of an international conflict mediator. Harriet Martin's vivid story-telling helps us get inside the minds and hearts of six master mediators so we can learn what they do, why they do it, how they fail, and how they succeed. A wonderful read - I recommend it highly!"
William Ury, co-author "Getting to Yes" and author, The "Third Side." --Sanford Lakoff
"A fascinating read...the inside story of some of the world's most intractable conflicts, Harriet Martin has secured access to some of the world's most impressive diplomats and she tells their stories with flair."
Owen Bennett-Jones, BBC Newshour presenter and author of Pakistan: Eye of the Storm --Sanford Lakoff
In this highly readable book, Harriet Martin has shed a bright light on the personalities and tactics of modern conflict mediators individuals who are rarely heralded, and almost never studied, and yet whose decisions affect the lives of millions. Martin's tales from the front will change the way we see the role of foreigners in conflict. The lessons she draws - if heeded - could dramatically improve the peace-makers' odds."
Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide" --Sanford Lakoff
"Kings of Peace is a straightforward account of the experiences of those engaged in conflict resolution"
South China Morning Post, 3/9/06--Sanford Lakoff
'Kings of Peace, Pawns of War is well written and interesting and contains fine analytical thinking.' 'Her narratives... are excellent, thoughtful narratives by a knowledgeable journalist with access to the mediators whose mediations she discusses.' - Morton Deutsch, PsycCRITIQUES--Sanford Lakoff
"Building on the author's conversations with six mediators, members of their teams and representatives of the parties they have worked with in Iraq, Cyprus, Aceh, Sri Lanka and Sudan, this book offers a unique glimpse into the secluded world of international peacemaking.... While contributing to an understanding of the everyday trials and tribulations of mediation in track-one peacemaking, a world where glamour appears conspicuously absent, Martin's book also invites reflections on the nature of peace processes.... Unwittingly or not, Martin's fascinating book lends support to the contention that mediation is as much an art as a science..."- Ann-Sofi Jakobsson Hatay, "Journal of Peace and Research, "Vol. 44 No. 1 January 2007--Sanford Lakoff
"Regardless of their relatively obscure public personae, the book's subjects are captivating. Here are men who have forged careers in civil service and who, together with "a phenomenal ability to listen," bring to the negotiating table their diplomatic savoir faire...Antonia Potter's analytical and well-informed epilogue does much to put the subjects in a more academic context and to encourage further reading and research. It is perhaps the greatest asset of this balanced book that, while not being an exhaustive study of any one of the cases it deals with, it employs wit and the seemingly effortless writing of a journalist to bridge the gap and engross us all in these fascinating and current stories. Furthermore, at a time when foreign intervention is more topical than ever, it makes a convincing case for mediation and the power of diplomacy as a way of embracing our collective responsibility to protect nations emerging from conflict." -Katya Leney-Hall, Ph.D., International Journal on World Peace, December 2008
About the Author
Harriet Martin covered the war in Bosnia for the Financial Times and the Economist in the mid-1990s, and subsequently worked at the BBC in London. She was a correspondent for the Independent in Geneva before joining the United Nations as a speech writer and political analyst.
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The focus of Martin's book is on six mediators. In each chapter, she analyses the style, the modus operandi and the personality of one of them, through a portrayal of their work in one peace negotiation. Lakhdar Brahimi in Iraq and Afghanistan, Alvaro de Soto in Cyprus, Martin Griffiths in Aceh, Vidar Helgesen and Erik Solheim in Sri Lanka, Lazaro Sumbeiywo in Sudan. Through a very close analysis of the work of each of them in these conflicts, Martin manages not only to shed light on the work of the international peace-mediator (one of the more needed and less understood professions in today's world, according to William Ury), but also of the scenario of the conflicts they worked in. And their characteristics and approach to the negotiation vary a great deal.
Firstly, we have Lakhdar Brahimi, special advisor to the United Nations Secretary General. A former politician and diplomat of his native Algeria, accustumed to dealing with heads of state and big figures, Brahimi's style is the "power broker", relying heavily on the power relations between the parties and managing them in a very skilled and clever manner. Given his long record of negotiation and his mastery of the trade, Martin dons him "the grandfather of UN peace mediation" and assesses the role he had in post-2003 Iraq and Afghanistan, his relationship with the United States ruling structure and how the US administration could have dealt better with the creation of a new Iraq government.
Secondly, Alvaro de Soto. This former Peruvian diplomat, a sophisticated, traveled and extremely intelligent man was the Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus from 1999 to 2004. A firm believer in the UN legal system and in the need to base the process on international law, de Soto relies not only on his authority but also on intellectual tricks to move the discussions forward, earning him the title "chess master". His dealings with the difficult figures of the Cyprus conflict are some of the most instigating passages of the book.
Thirdly, Martin Griffith's chapter is a move away from the official UN peace makers. Griffiths is an independent peace mediator. Working for the Geneva-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), he is not tied to any intergovernmental institutions but rather represents a new breed of independent mediators (certainly a reflex of the growth of the importance of NGOs in today's world). This is a double-edged sword; while on the one hand he lacks the clout and the weight to impose conditions on the negotiating parties, his independence grants him a dynamism and a free-hand that the somewhat constricted UN officials simply cannot afford. This chapter fuels hope that organizations such as the CHD will grow in number and strength, contributing to the construction of Peace.
Fourthly, the Norwegians Helgesen and Solheim. While often the mediators have a central role in the peace process, this duo places the process on the spotlight, and insists on being referred to as "facilitators", rather than mediators. Harriet Martin wonders, however, if this does not mean that they are the truest, purest mediators of all, as their constant and diligent work behind the scenes (often hampered by Sri Lankan politics) is really what, sotto voce, drives the whole thing forward. Their chapter, covering with their personal dynamics, their determination for the process and the difficult relationship witth the Sri Lankan authorities is perhaps the most intimate and engaging in the book.
Lastly, Sumbeiywo's work as Kenia's Special Envoy to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in mediating the peace-process in South Sudan 2004-05. Once more, the web of power between big governments, rebels and the superpower come into play, and are faced with the tower of moral authority that Sumbeiywo, a retired Kenyan Lt. General, personifies. His artful manner to put the interests of the Sudanese people above everything, often clashing with big-power interests, creates one of the best quotes in the book: "My interest in peace in the Sudan. Their interest is who has the upper hand when they get peace in the Sudan".
This book raises many stimulating matters, and it would be impossible to cover them all here, given the the way in which Martin, a former journalist and war correspondent, dives deeply into the subject. The complex psychology of mediation, for one, often has the centre stage. In Brahimi's words, "of course you shoot for the moon, but don't say you are going to get to the moon today if it takes you several steps". The interaction between peace-mediation and high politics, both at local and global level, the difference between UN mediators, State mediators and independent mediators... all these points construct the web of power the mediator is faced with every day, and support the very thin high wire they must walk to do their essential job. They have to deal with the two sides, while running the risk of being used themselves for political manipulation (hence the book's title).
The discussion of which should come first, peace or justice, is also raised, and the master negotiators Martin portrays sometimes diverge in this matter. I is possible to imagine, for instance, that Brahimi and Griffiths would be more pragmatic and say that the first thing is to get the peace agreement signed, whereas somebody like de Soto, heavily based on UN law and principles, might argue for legal justice prior to all. Here the unbelievable pressure these professionals have to work under plays an important role. The pressure to get the agreement is best exemplified by a situation faced by Griffiths in Aceh: having to choose between including human rights on paper, in a clause in the agreement, or the human rights of the people of Aceh, who would face a big military crackdown should the controversial clause be included.
Martin still included some very amusing anecdotes, such as the moment Sumbeiywo threatening to shoot the American representative on the negotiating table. Or the time Brahimi did not get up from his chair all through the night, in a symbol of pressure to make the delegations work and conclude the agreement, keeping everybody up. These funny stories contribute to increase the human face of peace-mediation.
In short, "Kings of Peace, Pawns of War" is extremely well recommended. The author ably deals with very complex and overlapping topics, drawing herself a psychological profile not only of these six men, but of the intricate world of peace mediation. As William Ury put it, it is crucial that we learn more about the work of peace mediators, it is today more needed than ever. And we often do not credit the amazing minds behind it all.