The mainstream research and studies on conflict resolution have until now relied in large measure on theories, principles, models, methods, processes, cases, practices and body of literature developed in Western cultures and institutions. However, little or no attention has been given to the systems and processes of conflict resolution that were historically utilized in ancient societies or are currently being used by traditional rulers – kings, queens, chiefs, village heads – and indigenous leaders at the grassroots level and in different parts of the world to mediate and resolve disputes, restore justice and harmony, and foster peaceful coexistence in their various constituencies, communities, regions and countries. Also, a thorough investigation of the syllabi and portfolios of the courses in the field of conflict analysis and resolution, peace and conflict studies, alternative dispute resolution, conflict management studies, and related fields of study confirms the wide spread, but false, assumption that conflict resolution is a Western creation. Although traditional systems of conflict resolution predate the modern theories and practices of conflict resolution, they are almost, if not completely, unavailable in our conflict resolution text books, course syllabi, and public policy discourse.
Even with the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2000 – an international body mandated by the United Nations to raise awareness about and discuss indigenous issues – and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 and ratified by member states, no formal discussion has been held at the international level on the traditional systems of conflict resolution and the various roles traditional rulers and indigenous leaders play in preventing, managing, mitigating, mediating or resolving conflicts and promoting a culture of peace both at the grassroots and national levels.
The International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation believes that an international conference on the Traditional Systems of Conflict Resolution is highly needed at this crucial time in world history. The traditional rulers are the custodians of peace at the grassroots level, and for a long time, the international community has ignored them and their wealth of knowledge and wisdom in the areas of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It is high time we included the traditional rulers and indigenous leaders in the discussion on international peace and security. It is high time we gave them the opportunity to contribute to our overall knowledge of conflict resolution, peacemaking and peacebuilding.
By organizing and hosting an international conference on the traditional systems of conflict resolution, we hope to not only begin a pluri-disciplinary, policy, and legal discussion on the traditional systems of conflict resolution, but most importantly, this international conference will serve as an international forum where researchers, scholars, policy makers and practitioners will have an opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from the traditional rulers from various countries around the world. In turn, the traditional rulers will discover emerging research and best practices presented by scholars and practitioners at the conference. The outcome of the exchange, inquiry and discussion will inform the international community on the roles and importance of the traditional systems of conflict resolution in our contemporary world.
Presentations at this international conference on the traditional systems of conflict resolution will be given by two groups of people. The first group of presenters are the delegates representing the councils of traditional rulers or indigenous leaders from various countries around the world who are invited to share best practices and speak on the roles the traditional rulers play in the peaceful resolution of conflict, promotion of social cohesion, peaceful coexistence and harmony, restorative justice, national security, and sustainable peace and development in their various countries. The second group of presenters are experts, researchers, scholars and policy makers whose accepted abstracts cover a wide range of qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods research studies on the traditional systems of conflict resolution, including, but not limited to, theoretical frameworks, models, cases, practices, historical analyses, comparative studies, sociological studies, policy and legal studies (both national and international), economic studies, cultural and ethnic studies, systems design, and processes of traditional systems of conflict resolution.
Activities and Structure
- Presentations – Keynote speeches, distinguished speeches (insights from the experts), and panel discussions – by invited speakers and authors of accepted papers. The conference program and schedule for presentations will be published here on or before October 1, 2018.
- Theatrical and Dramatic Presentations – Performances of cultural and ethnic musicals /concert, plays, and choreographic presentation.
- Poetry – poem recitations.
- Exhibition of Works of Arts – Artistic works that portray the idea of traditional systems of conflict resolution in different societies and countries, including the following types of arts: fine art (drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking), visual art, performances, crafts, and fashion show.
- “Pray for Peace”– Pray for Peace” is a multi-faith, multi-ethnic, and multi-national prayer for global peace developed by ICERM to help bridge tribal, ethnic, racial, religious, sectarian, cultural, ideological and philosophical divide, and to help promote a culture of peace around the world. The “Pray for Peace” event will conclude the 5th annual international conference and shall be co-officiated by traditional rulers and indigenous leaders present at the conference.
- ICERM Honorary Award Dinner – As a regular course of practice, ICERM gives honorary awards each year to nominated and selected individuals, groups and/or organizations in recognition for their extraordinary achievements in any areas related to the mission of the organization and the theme of the annual conference.
Anticipated Outcomes and Benchmarks for Success
- A pluridisciplinary understanding of the traditional systems of conflict resolution.
- Lessons learned, success stories and best practices will be harnessed.
- Development of a comprehensive model of traditional conflict resolution.
- Draft resolution for the official recognition of the traditional systems and processes of conflict resolution by the United Nations.
- The international community’s recognition and acknowledgement of the traditional systems of conflict resolution and the various roles traditional rulers and indigenous leaders play in preventing, managing, mitigating, mediating or resolving conflicts and promoting a culture of peace both at the grassroots and national levels.
- Inauguration of World Elders Forum.
- Publication of the conference proceedings in the Journal of Living Together to provide resources and support to the work of researchers, policymakers and conflict resolution practitioners.
- Digital video documentation of selected aspects of the conference for future production of a documentary.
We will measure attitude changes and increased knowledge via pre and post session tests and conference evaluations. We will measure process objectives through collection of data re: nos. participating; groups represented – number and type -, completion of post-conference activities and by achieving the benchmarks below leading to success.
- Confirm Presenters
- Register 400 persons
- Confirm Funders & Sponsors
- Hold Conference
- Publish Findings
- Implement and monitor conference outcomes
Proposed Time-Frame for Activities
- Planning starts after the 4th Annual Conference by November 18, 2017.
- 2018 Conference Committee appointed by December 18, 2017.
- Committee convenes meetings monthly from January 2018.
- Call for Papers released by November 18, 2017.
- Program & activities developed by February 18, 2018.
- Promotion & Marketing starts by November 18, 2017.
- Abstract Submission Deadline is Friday, June 29, 2018.
- Selected abstracts for presentation notified by Friday, July 6, 2018.
- Full paper submission deadline: Friday, August 31, 2018.
- Research, Workshop & Plenary Session Presenters confirmed by July 18, 2018.
- Pre-conference registration closed by September 30, 2018.
- Hold 2018 Conference: “The Traditional Systems of Conflict Resolution” Tuesday, October 30 – Thursday, November 1, 2018.
- Edit Conference Videos and Release them by December 18, 2018.
- Conference Proceedings edited and Post-Conference Publication – Special Issue of the Journal of Living Together published by April 18, 2019.
Download Conference Program
Every year, the International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation convenes and hosts the Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding in New York City. In 2018, the conference was held at Queens College, City University of New York, in partnership with the Center for Ethnic, Racial & Religious Understanding (CERRU), from October 30 to November 1. The theme of the conference was Traditional Systems of Conflict Resolution. The conference was attended by delegates representing the councils of traditional rulers / indigenous leaders and experts, researchers, scholars, students, practitioners, and policy makers from many countries around the world. The photos in these albums were taken on the first, second and third days of the conference. Participants who want to download copies of their photos can do so on this page or visit our Facebook albums for the 2018 conference.