disputed camels

17 Camels | How Others Help Resolve Conflict

In this TED talk negotiation guru William Ury talks about the secret to peace and how others help resolve conflict.

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disputed camels

17 Camels

He starts with the story of three brothers who were willed 17 camels. The first brother was given half the camels, the second brother was given one third the camels and the third brother was given one ninth of the camels. The trouble being 17 doesn’t divide by any of those numbers. the brothers go to see an old wise lady who, unable to solve the problem offers them her camel. The brothers, now with 18 camels, then are able to divide the camels into one half(9), into a third (6) and into a ninth (2) leaving them with an extra camel that the brothers return to the wise old woman.

The parable is meant to illustrate the value others can have in resolving disputes.

others help resolve conflict impact dispute

3rd Side: Others Help Resolve Conflict

Ury calls the others impacted by conflict, the community the third side. He notes that community, the others, are impacted by conflict and these others help resolve conflict. Just by noting that the conflict is impacting people beyond the parties in the conflict forces the parties to view the conflict objectively, what Ury calls going to the balcony.

The Path of Abraham

Professor Ury speaks about the impact of the walk of abraham on building peace. The walk, he says, “has the potential to change the game.” By bringing tourists into rural areas that had been economically depressed the walk has the ability to change terrorism into tourism.

Identity and Economy

By finding a common identity and a common identity we create a potential for peace.

Ury’s Main Points

  1. Secret to peace is the third side.

  2. The third side is us

  3. Each of us, with a single step can bring the world closer to peace

Mediation’s Role

Mediators help the parties

  • Identify the third parties
  • Identify how actions of participants are impacting third parties
  • Facilitate process improvements to protect third parties while improving the parties to the mediation’s ability to work together.
  • Help Parties set ground rules to insulate third parties
  • Help the parties to the mediation use their care for a third party to reconcile conflict

What Do You Think?

Have you had a conflict where a third party was instrumental in helping find a solution? Do you agree with Professor Ury, can third parties help deliver peace?

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