For some years, my colleagues and I have been actively engaged in the development and application of an approach to the resolution of international conflicts for which we use the term ‘interactive problem–solving’. The fullest – indeed, the paradigmatic – application of the approach is represented by problem–solving workshops (Kelman, 1972, 1979, 1992, 1996b; Kelman and Cohen, 1986), although it involves a variety of other activities as well. In fact, I have increasingly come to see interactive problem–solving as an approach to the macro–processes of international conflict resolution, in which problem–solving workshops and similar micro–level activities are integrally related to official diplomacy (Kelman, 1996a).
The approach derives most directly from the work of John Burton (1969, 1979, 1984). While my work follows the general principles laid out by Burton, it has evolved in its own directions, in keeping with my own disciplinary background, my particular style, and the cases on which I have focused my attention. My work has concentrated since 1974 on the Arab–Israeli conflict, and particularly on the Israeli–Palestinian component of that conflict. I have also done some work, however, on the Cyprus conflict and have maintained an active interest in several other intense, protracted identity conflicts at the international or intercommunal level, such as the conflicts in Bosnia, Sri Lanka, and Northern Ireland.