The Burundi peace process, for example, has two diplomatic "tracks," one official and the other unofficial. Burundi, like Rwanda, has suffered from mass violence since 1993, leading to the deaths of over 150,000 Hutus and Tutsis. The conflict involves the Tutsi- dominated government, led by President Buyoya and a number of Hutu rebel factions seeking power. The official diplomatic track, called the Arusha process because its origins lie in a summit held in the Northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, is facilitated by former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere and brings together all Hutu and Tutsi parties to discuss major decisions.
This official diplomatic track is coordinated with an unofficial "second track" led by the Community of St. Egidio, a Catholic lay order based in Rome. The unofficial track has attempted to arrange an agreement for suspension of hostilities between the Tutsi-led Burundian government and the principal armed rebel group, the CNDD, which is crucial, said Wolpe, in order for a political dialogue to move forward in the official process.
Wolpe works with participants on both tracks of the Burundi peace process and has an especially close working relationship with Nyerere. "The fundamental issue is helping Burundians find the means by which to share power and allow all parties, minorities as well as majorities, to feel secure," he said. "Issues of control of the army are as important as constitutional questions of the organization and structure of the political system."
Despite the region's bloodshed and unresolved conflicts, Wolpe says he is optimistic about the Great Lakes region. His optimism comes from the emergence of a new generation of African leaders in Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Eritrea. He explains, "These are people who are very strong and committed leaders who are anxious to try to make economic gains in Central Africa and to establish a greater sense of regional unity."
Allison Berland '93 works for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C., in their book publishing department. She recently finished an internship at the Brookings Institution and will begin graduate work at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy this fall.
Track two diplomacy works at grassroots level
"Peace-building has been around for centuries," says Ambassador John McDonald, chairman of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) in Washington, D.C., referring to the work done by religious groups such as the Quakers and the Mennonites. St. Egidio, a nonprofit Catholic charity, has been involved in the peace talks of Mozambique, Lebanon, El Salvador, Burundi, and Albania, to name a few.
The term "track two" diplomacy was coined by Joe Montville of the Foreign Services Institute in 1982 to mean diplomacy carried out by non-state actors. After spending many years at the State Department, McDonald and Montville both came to the conclusion that track one, or government-to-government diplomacy, by itself doesn't lead to a lasting peace process. "Track one focuses on negotiated settlements," says Lee Briggs, a graduate student at George Mason's Conflict Resolution program, who has interned at IMTD for two years. "Track one doesn't address social problems. Once you remove the structures (for example, the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia) the fighting may start all over again."
Track two diplomacy, sometimes called unofficial or citizen diplomacy, focuses on the grassroots level of conflict, attempting to lessen the fear and hatred between groups in conflict by fostering communication. IMTD, founded in 1992 by Ambassador McDonald and Louis Diamond, expanded the concept of track two diplomacy to nine tracks to incorporate all activities that work towards peace building. The nine tracks are government, nongovernment/professional, business, private citizen, research/training/education, activism, religion, funding, and communication/media.
The nonprofit organization promotes peace building at various levels, providing conflict resolution training to Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as well as the staff at CARE, an international humanitarian organization, and the World Bank. "This is diplomacy from the heart," said McDonald. "Until people start talking to each other, they can't make changes."