Track Two Diplomacy in Theory and Practice
Peter Jones


Contents and Abstracts
chapter abstract

This chapter summarizes the key aims of the book and its intended audiences. The aims include the "demystifying" of the field of Track Two, and the systematic review of the field and its place in international relations. The intended audiences are officials who must interact with Track Two, and scholars and practitioners who study it.

1 What is Track Two Diplomacy
chapter abstract

This chapter reviews the many definitions which have been developed for the field of Track Two and analyzes the contribution each has made to the development of our understanding of it. The chapter explores the development of Track Two within the broader field of conflict resolution, and also outlines the history of the development of Track Two itself. Based upon this, the chapter outlines some recurring themes which are common to the various definitions and historical experiences of Track Two and then advances its own definition of the field. The chapter also notes that, while most Track Two has been intended for the resolution of conflicts, other models have arisen, such as Track Two in the service of regional security.

2 Theoretical Foundations of Track Two
chapter abstract

This chapter looks at the major paradigms in the field of International Relations and asks where Track Two fits in terms of its relationship to them. It finds that none of the paradigms completely explains Track Two, and argues that an eclectic approach must be taken to understanding where and how Track Two fits into IR theory. The chapter then identifies and explores attempts which have been made by previous scholars and practitioners of Track Two to explain and define what they are doing in relation to adapted forms of IR and other social science theories.

3 Where Theory Meets Practice
chapter abstract

This chapter explores the interplay between practice and attempts to develop theoretical explanations for Track Two. While much of Track Two theory is not well-received by mainstream theories of international affairs, this does not mean that it lacks theoretical foundation. Several practitioners and students of the field have developed theoretical frameworks. Other practitioners have developed or borrowed concepts from other constructs and applied them eclectically to their activities. In keeping with Track Two's action-oriented approach, much of this activity tries to help practitioners answer critical questions about how to make their efforts more effective. Four particularly important aspects of this are: the question of the 'theories of change' which practitioners take into their cases, the way they conceive the conflict, the question of when it is best to launch a Track Two process, and the ethical and cultural issues which arise when practicing Track Two.

4 On People: The Characteristics and Role of the Third Party
chapter abstract

This chapter explores the role of the 'third party,' the individual who facilitates a Track Two process. It explores questions like: why do most Track Two dialogues have a third party? Who are these people and what do they do? How are they prepared for the role? There is no single, all-encompassing definition, nor are there agreed standards to prepare people for this role. Instead, the idea of the third party has evolved through trial and error, and most who undertake it are prepared through study and a long apprenticeship of assisting others. Moreover, there are differing perceptions of what the third party does, often based on different conceptions of the primary purpose of Track Two. Some embrace an eclectic approach which stresses personal skills and indefinable qualities, while others believe that the field needs standards and professionalization. Finally, the chapter explores what "power" the third party has.

5 On Method: The Problem Solving Workshop
chapter abstract

This chapter examines what is arguably the main process used in Track Two dialogues, Problem Solving Workshops (PSW). It begins by identifying the evolution of the "problem solving" idea in the social sciences and its application to conflicts. It then looks at how PSWs are organized. The conditions PSWs aim to create are: equality among participants, regardless of asymmetries within the conflict; a sense of common purpose; cooperative interdependence; and a set of rules which are employed by a facilitator to guide the conversation towards cooperative and reflective analysis. As to objectives, PSW processes aim to create an environment within which people who have been involved in a conflict are able to step back from their long-held positions and examine its underlying causes. After this, the PSW participants ideally move on to developing possible ways forward. The chapter also looks at the question of how Track Two is funded.

6 On Impact: Transfer and the Evaluation of Track Two
chapter abstract

Track Two dialogues are meant to influence events in some way. This chapter considers how the results of such discussions reach their intended target and what practitioners and participants in Track Two can do to make such a transfer of ideas more effective. The chapter traces the evolution of the idea of transfer. It then identifies and assesses some of the key considerations and practical questions which surround the field. The chapter then asks how Track Two processes are evaluated and measured. This is a particularly difficult area for the field. The chapter traces the evolution of thinking about to measure the results of Track Two and identifies the key issues.

chapter abstract

The Conclusion explores the issue of how theory and practice can come together to help the reader understand Track Two more fully. It rejects the notion that the two must be in opposition to each other, which is in vogue in some social science circles, and argues that each can inform the other. The Conclusions note that many social science academics have tended to be dismissive of Track Two, and the field of conflict resolution generally, as not being sufficiently 'theory-based,' and it takes issue with this assertion. However, ultimately, the Conclusion argues that Track Two is more about practice than it is about theory-building because it is ultimately about working with people, who are idiosyncratic. Finally, the Conclusion advances a set of propositions about Track Two which are presented as the main findings of the book.