The Nobel Prize for Conflict Management

Posted By on October 15th

Nobel Peace PrizeWhat is the Nobel Peace Prize supposed to represent, and how does it relate to conflict management?

This seems like a good question to ask on Conflict Resolution Day (Created by the Association for Conflict Resolution, it is celebrated the third Thursday in October every year) following the recent debate over President Barack Obama’s receipt of the award.

Are we as a society diminishing the value of an individual’s “commitment” to conflict management? Are we only recognizing value in the final result?

Many pundits have criticized the 2009 award being given to President Obama because he has not done anything yet, which must mean that he hasn’t yet achieved the final goal of eliminating conflict. Certainly, he has spoken out against conflict, he has met with other leaders to discuss and appeal for conflict resolution, and he has grappled with how to proceed with the military actions he inherited.

Instead of demanding solid results of international conflict resolution in a 10-month period, should we recognize that many need to increase their commitment for true conflict management. The necessary mindset includes a desire to understand opposing viewpoints before reaching judgment, an ability to set aside ego and admit mistakes, and an ability to recognize there is typically more than one solution to a problem.

The Nobel Prizes were created in 1896 from the estate of Alfred Nobel. His will specifically designated the award of five “prizes” for those who “have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”. The Peace Prize is for “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

The Nobel Committee announced that President Obama is receiving the award because of “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

The language used by Alfred Nobel in his will clearly discusses the consideration of individuals who have worked towards conflict resolution and towards building peacemaking alliances. Nobel shrewdly recognized that conflict management is a process, an evolution. In recognizing President Obama, the Nobel Committee correctly recognized that the process is difficult and it starts with individual commitment, which is unfortunately the exception, not the norm.

About the author

Keith Grossman helps individuals and businesses negotiate and manage conflict more comfortably. Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an educator. Keith frequently lectures and facilitates training programs, works with individuals one-on-one, and writes articles on conflict management and negotiation topics. His e-workbooks, “What Is A Peace Chest?” and “How Do You Build A Peace Chest?“ are now available on Kindle.

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