Multi-Track Diplomacy is a conceptual way to view the process of international peacemaking as a living system. It looks at the web of interconnected activities, individuals, institutions, and communities that operate together for a common goal: a world at peace.
History of Multi-Track Diplomacy
Multi-Track Diplomacy is an expansion of the “Track One, Track Two” paradigm that has defined the conflict resolution field during the last decade.
Track One Diplomacy is official government diplomacy whereby communication and interaction is between governments.
Track Two Diplomacy is the unofficial interaction and intervention of non-state actors.
Invention of Multi-Track Diplomacy
The multi-track system originated due to the inefficiency of pure government mediation. Moreover, increases in intrastate conflict(conflicts within a state) in the 1990s confirmed that “Track One Diplomacy” was not an effective method for securing international cooperation or resolving conflicts. Rather, there needed to be a more interpersonal approach in addition to government mediation. For that reason, former diplomat Joseph Montville invented “Track Two Diplomacy” in order to incorporate citizens with diversity and skills into the mediation process.
Still, Dr. Louise Diamond, co-founder of IMTD, recognized that lumping all track-two activities under one label did not capture the complexity or breadth of unofficial diplomacy. Therefore, she coined the phrase “multi-track diplomacy,” in order to incorporate all aspects of mediation from the ground-level work of private citizens to the top-level meetings of state heads. Multi-Track Diplomacy utilizes all levels of society in order to determine the needs and facilitate communication between all levels of society.
Ambassador John McDonald added further “tracks” by expanding Track Two Diplomacy into four separate tracks: conflict resolution professionals, business, private citizens, and the media.
In 1991, Dr. Diamond and Ambassador McDonald expanded the number of tracks to nine. They added four new tracks: religion, activism, research, training, and education, and philanthropy. Tracks two through nine help prepare an environment that will welcome positive change carried out by track-one or government. At the same time, they can make sure that government decisions are carried out and implemented properly. This cross-fertilization of the official and non-government sectors of the society allows change to happen.
Dr. Diamond and Ambassador McDonald reorganized the relationship between the various tracks. Instead of putting track one at the top of the hierarchy, with all the “unofficial” tracks following the direction of track one, Diamond and McDonald redesigned the diagram and placed the tracks in an interconnected circle. No one track is more important than the other, and no one track is independent from the others. Each track has its own resources, values, and approaches, but since they are all linked, they can operate more powerfully when they are coordinated.
Each track operates together as a system. Thus, IMTD’s systems-based approach to conflict resolution.
IMTD’s utilizes its systems-based approach by recognizing that the transformation of deep-rooted conflicts cannot be left solely to governmental entities, but must be expanded to include non-governmental actors, civil society and other informal channels. By expanding the approach to peacemaking and peacebuilding outside of Track One, IMTD works to ensure a holistic, comprehensive approach to conflict transformation with a greater likelihood of long-term, sustainable peace.
Nine Tracks in the Multi-Track System
Track 1 – Government, or Peacemaking through Diplomacy. This is the world of official diplomacy, policymaking, and peacebuilding as expressed through formal aspects of the governmental process.
Track 2 – Nongovernment/Professional, or Peacemaking through Conflict Resolution. This is the realm of professional nongovernmental action attempting to analyze, prevent, resolve, and manage international conflicts by non-state actors.
Track 3 – Business, or Peacemaking through Commerce. This is the field of business and its actual and potential effects on peacebuilding through the provision of economic opportunities, international friendship and understanding, informal channels of communication, and support for other peacemaking activities.
Track 4 – Private Citizen, or Peacemaking through Personal Involvement. This includes the various ways that individual citizens become involved in peace and development activities through citizen diplomacy, exchange programs, private voluntary organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and special-interest groups.
Track 5 – Research, Training, and Education, or peacemaking through Learning. This track includes three related worlds: research, as it is connected to university programs, think tanks, and special-interest research centers; training programs that seek to provide training in practitioner skills such as negotiation, mediation, conflict resolution, and third-party facilitation; and education, including kindergarten through PhD programs that cover various aspects of global or cross-cultural studies, peace and world order studies, and conflict analysis, management, and resolution.
Track 6 – Activism, or Peacemaking through Advocacy. This track covers the field of peace and environmental activism on such issues as disarmament, human rights, social and economic justice, and advocacy of special-interest groups regarding specific governmental policies.
Track 7 – Religion, or Peacemaking through Faith in action. This examines the beliefs and peace-oriented actions of spiritual and religious communities and such morality-based movements as pacifism, sanctuary, and nonviolence.
Track 8 – Funding, or Peacemaking through Providing Resources. This refers to the funding community-those foundations and individual philanthropists that provide the financial support for many of the activities undertaken by the other tracks.
Track 9 – Communications and the Media, or Peacemaking through Information. This is the realm of the voice of the people: how public opinion gets shaped and expressed by the media-print, film, video, radio, electronic systems, the arts.
The multi-track diagram proudly serves as a logo for the Institute. It visually represents the ideas, beliefs and commitments of the organization. The eight points of the diagram stand for each track of diplomacy with the inner circle that represents public opinion and communication (ninth track) and ties all the tracks together, the way the power of communication helps integrate society. The diagram became a recognized and respected logo in the world of conflict resolution specialists and conflict management.
This material is taken from the introduction to the book, Multi-Track Diplomacy: A Systems Approach to Peace, by Dr. Louise Diamond and Ambassador John McDonald, Kumarian Press, 1996.