The work of Sustained Dialogue was born in the fires of international conflict, and today that sector remains a key activity for us. Sustained Dialogue methods have been used for more than 50 years across the globe. SD engages groups who are otherwise unable to meet due to war or other conflict. SDI oversees the longest running citizen’s dialogue between the United States and Russia, and has administered dialogue programs in the Middle East, countries in the former Soviet Union, and Africa. We also have campus programs in Africa and Mexico. Learn more about our international legacy below.
The Dartmouth Conference 1960 – 2015
The Dartmouth Conference is the longest continuous bilateral dialogue between citizens of the Soviet Union, now Russia, and the United States. It has been an attempt to create Sustained Dialogue on the changing nature of the relationship between the two countries for the purposes of preventing nuclear war. Furthermore, strengthening the relationship between these two powers has incredible implications for world peace and development. As of mid-2015, 142 3-day dialogues have been held under the auspices of the original Dartmouth Conference.
Tajikistan 1993 – 2005
Following the success of the Dartmouth Conference, a team of Russians and Americans sought to use the same dialogue paradigm to help the people of Tajiskistan resolve what by 1993 was a vicious civil war. Many dialogue participants became members of the official, UN sponsored, peace-negotiating team. Following the signing of a UN mediated peace agreement in 1997, the dialogue continued with a focus initially on facilitating national reconciliation, moving next to strengthening the foundations of democracy, then to using Sustained Dialogue to enable fifteen poor, divided communities to come together to create and implement local economic development projects. Next, we trained local moderators to use Sustained Dialogue to enable communities throughout the country to openly discuss the appeals and challenges of Islamic extremism.
Armenia and Azerbaijan 1993 – 2007
Sustained Dialogue was attempted to address a conflict that had seen no movement toward resolution nor showed any promise of doing so in the 7 years following a ceasefire that ended violent fighting in 1994. It took one and a half years and nine days of meetings for participants to get sufficiently past the need for “venting” or giving voice to difficult losses and deep hurts before they became ready to engage in the deep listening that finally enabled the transformation of relationships and the application of their joint creativity to resolve this “frozen” conflict. By the 9th meeting and 24 days of dialogue over 6 years, the group had produced a Framework for a Peace Process in the region to which all dialogue participants were able to agree and commit to implementing.
Southern Africa 2003 – 2005
In 2003, Teddy Nemeroff, the founder of Sustained Dialogue at Princeton University and the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, began work with the Institute for Democracy in Africa (Idasa). The goal was to infuse the work of Idasa with dialogue in order to more effectively address challenges related to economic development, reconciliation and race relations, and violence prevention in South Africa and Zimbabwe. One successful dialogue project sought to transform a deep community conflict at the Greentree Interchange, a marketplace and train station. Dialogue built relationships between the poor people who sell goods at the market and the local governments that oversee the operations.
Arab-American European Dialogue 2004 – 2007
Following the events of September 11, 2001, non-government leaders with interests in Middle Eastern democracy from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine and citizens from the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain decided to engage in dialogue to combat stereotypes and keep building relationships in the face of armed conflict. Over the next four years, the group met for 10 official meetings and dialogued about topics such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, democracy in the Arab world, and the concerns of Muslims in Western countries. Actions focused on bringing awareness to the possibility of dialogue and the reality of the impacts between Westerners and Arabs through news stories and articles.
Iraq 2007 – 2009
Undertaken with the political support of the Iraqi Prime Minister as well as that of all Iraqi political parties and movements other than Al Qaeda, after four meetings, the SD cohort produced a plan for an independent commission on national reconciliation supported by all participants. Following agreement during the dialogue, legislation giving it official sanction and an implementation mechanism was introduced into the Iraqi legislature in May 2008. Factors important to the success of this dialogue were: 1) recognition by nearly all parties of the urgency of ending the conflict, 2) recognition of this dialogue as providing such a possibility, and 3) participant readiness to work through their deeply-rooted ethnic, religious, and political differences. This dialogue continues today under Italian leadership.