In This Review

A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflicts
A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflicts
By Harold H. Saunders
St. Martin's, 1999, 368 pp.

A thoughtful treatise on the art of peacemaking that underscores the significance of nongovernmental contacts and citizen dialogue. A former American diplomat active in the Arab-Israeli peace process, Saunders explores the communication between societies and the potential impact of the human dimension on tackling ethnic and religious clashes. The result is a sort of how-to book on conflict resolution for divided societies, from rival nationalist factions in Tajikistan to racial divisions in Louisiana. The author attaches importance to broad-based, open-ended dialogues that feed back into civil society and eventually into diplomatic negotiations, but he cautiously concedes that he cannot fully measure the impact of dialogue on deep-rooted antagonisms. The world-weary will therefore remain skeptical. Other readers will be left wanting to know more about the range of conflicts and the circumstances that promote citizen dialogue.