A critical theory of peace practice : discourse ethics and facilitated conflict resolution
This thesis argues for the need to answer the question how can we use critical theory to rethink the meta-theoretical foundations of facilitated conflict resolution. It draws on Jurgen Habermas' discourse ethics-based framework and a methodology of communicative rationality to articulate the foundations of a Critical Theory of Peace Practice. An illustrative example of the Oslo Channel, which led to the Declaration of Principles and Letters of Mutual Recognition between Israel and the PLO with the third- party facilitative assistance of Norwegians in 1993, sets the stage for exploring the extent to which facilitated conflict resolution approaches can contribute to peace practices. John Burton's ideas are critically and carefully examined as he has most extensively articulated the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of such an approach. It is contended that although he identifies practices that differ from traditional mediation approaches, theoretically he remains committed to a behavioural-oriented human needs theory and is reliant on instrumental rationality in which success in the problem-solving setting is prioritised. Other scholars and practitioners who have attempted to expand and refine the Burtonian perspective are studied. It is argued that although each offers modifications to either the theory or the practice, all fail to fundamentally move beyond instrumental rationality and human needs theory. A communicative rationality methodology and a meta-theoretical foundation of Habermas' discourse ethics is proposed for grounding a theory of peace practice. By shifting the emphasis from needs to communication, this suggested framework is intended not only to impact the facilitation process, but the broader public sphere in which the legitimacy of any reached agreements must be accepted for establishing and sustaining peace. The most promising intimations of the praxeological dimensions of such an approach can be found in the realm of conflict transformation and peace-building with their associated desire to effect changes in socio-political arrangements.