Ambassador John W. McDonald

McDonald officialU.S. Ambassador (ret.) John W. McDonald is a lawyer, diplomat, former international civil servant, development expert and peacebuilder, concerned about world social, economic and ethnic problems. He spent twenty years of his diplomatic career in Western Europe and the Middle East and worked for sixteen years on United Nations economic and social affairs. He is currently Chairman and co-founder (1992) of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, in Rossyln, Virginia, which focuses on national and international ethnic conflicts, including the Millennium goals of clean drinking water and sanitation. He also is UNEP's North American Representative to the International Environmental Governance Advisory Group.

McDonald retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 1987, after a 40 year diplomatic career.

In 1987-88, he became a Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. He was Senior Advisor to George Mason University's Center for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and taught and lectured at the Foreign Service Institute and the Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs. From December, 1988, to January, 1992, McDonald was President of the Iowa Peace Institute in Grinnell, Iowa and was a Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College. In February, 1992, he was named Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, in Fairfax, Virginia.

Before his retirement from the State Department in 1987, McDonald joined in 1983 the State Department's newly formed Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs as its Coordinator for Multilateral Affairs, and lectured and organized symposia on the art of negotiation, multilateral diplomacy and international organizations.

From 1978-83, he carried out a wide variety of assignments for the State Department in the area of multilateral diplomacy. He was President of the INTELSAT World Conference called to draft a treaty on privileges and immunities; leader of the U.S. Delegation to the UN World Conference on Technical Cooperation Among Developing Countries, in Buenos Aires in 1978; Secretary General of the 27th Colombo Plan Ministerial Meeting; head of the U.S. Delegation which negotiated a UN Treaty Against the Taking of Hostages; U.S. Coordinator for the UN Decade on Drinking Water and Sanitation; head of the U.S. Delegation to UNIDO III in New Delhi in 1980; Chairman of the Federal Inter-Agency Committee for the UN's International Year of Disabled Persons, 1981; U.S. Coordinator and head of the U.S. Delegation for the UN's World Assembly on Aging, in Vienna, in 1982.

From 1974-78, he was Deputy Director General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, a UN Agency, with responsibility for managing that agency's 3,200 person Secretariat, coming from 102 countries, with programs in 120 member nations, and an annual budget of $135 million. From 1947-1974, Ambassador McDonald held various State Department assignments in Berlin, Frankfurt, Bonn, Paris, Washington D.C., Ankara, Tehran, Karachi, and Cairo.

Ambassador McDonald holds both a B.A. and a J.D. degree from the University of Illinois, and graduated from the National War College in 1967. He has written and co-edited ten books and numerous articles on negotiation and conflict resolution, and makes more than 100 speeches a year. He was appointed Ambassador twice by President Carter and twice by President Reagan to represent the United States at various UN World Conferences.


The mission of IMTD is to promote a systems-based approach to peacebuilding and to facilitate the transformation of deeply-rooted social conflict. The Institute is based in Arlington, VA, and has more than 1300 members in 31 countries. IMTD is supported by a wide range of key personnel, associates and interns. Since IMTD first opened its doors, it has articulated and committed to  a set of twelve principles for its work. 


IMTD's 12 Principles

Since IMTD first opened its doors, it has articulated and committed to a mission statement and a set of twelve principles for its work. These basic principles guide IMTD's actions, shape its activities and projects, as well as provide standards by which the Institute holds itself accountable.

Principle 1 – Relationship

Building strong interpersonal and intergroup relations throughout the fabric of society is essential for promoting a peacebuilding process, engaging people in promoting civil society and assuring the success of a wide range of projects.

Principle 2 – Long-Term Commitment

With any project undertaken, IMTD makes a long-term commitment to people and to processes that may take years to come to fruition. Dedication to any project builds stronger relationships between organizations and people, establishes partnership and networking, and empowers participants.

Principle 3 – Cultural Synergy

Appreciation and respect for cultural wisdom of all the parties and creative interaction upholds long-term relationships and partnerships and assures positive outcome of endeavors.

Principle 4 – Partnership

Establishing partnerships and modeling a collaborative process with local parties and with other institutions is the basis of IMTD operations.

Principle 5 – Multiple Technologies

IMTD is able to utilize a variety of appropriate technologies and methods, which meet the unique needs of each situation.

Principle 6 – Facilitation

IMTD serves as a facilitator, assisting parties in taking responsibility for their own dreams and destiny. Training and encouraging other parties to step forward in the project process guarantees continuity of the ideas and principles that the institute stands for.

Principle 7 – Empowerment

IMTD tries to empower people to become active agents of change and positive transformation within their respective societies.

Principle 8 – Action Research

Reflective practice, learning from experience, and action research underlie all of IMTD's activities, promotes scholastic research, evaluation and assessment, and contributes to the learning process of all parties involved.

Principle 9 – Invitation

IMTD only ever becomes involved in projects upon invitation from the receiving country, organization or community. The willingness of the other party to engage in peacebuilding processes or conflict resolution training enhances the successful implementation of the projects, contributes to building partnership and friendly relationship between the organization and participants.

Principle 10 – Trust

Long term relationship and partnership is unlikely without mutual trust and caring within the system.

Principle 11 – Engagement

Long-term commitment and partnership acknowledges that once IMTD enters a system it becomes a unique part of it: an engaged, caring, and accountable partner.

Principle 12 – Transformation

Transformation and catalyzing changes at the deepest level of beliefs, assumptions, and values as well as behaviors and structures are the main aims of the Institute's activities.

What is Multi-Track Diplomacy?

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.


Multi-Track Design

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.




Logo Design

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

Partners and Affiliates































Dhirendra K. Nalbo

As an indigenous national, Dhirendra was born and raised in Lingtep, Taplejung, far northeastern Nepal. After he finished schooling there, he moved to Kathmandu for further studies. He received his Bachelor's degree from Tribhuwan University and Master's degree from IACER (Pokhara University). While in Nepal, he worked as a Program Manager with an NGO that provided vocational training for conflict-affected youths and helped them integrate into society. Later, he received his second Masters with honors in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford, UK. As a part of the team at IMTD, he is an associate for projects in Nepal and Tibet.

Aneesha Kumar

Aneesha Kumar was born in Bombay, India and came to the United States in 2004 to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with concentrations in International Relations and Contemporary Politics from The College of Wooster in 2008. Recently, she completed her Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution at University of Denver and is a certified mediator and facilitator. As a part of the IMTD team, Aneesha is the Program Manager for projects regarding India-Pakistan-Kashmir relations and peacebuilding.

Michelle Lebaron, J.D.

Originally from Canada, where she practiced and taught in Vancouver. Michelle Lebaron is particularly sensitive to cross-cultural and diversity issues. She has returned to Vancouver and is on the faculty of the University of Vancouver. She is a widely published scholar.

Bill Lincoln

Mr. Lincoln an internationally recognized teacher, trainer, and negotiator. His impartial intervention activities include prison uprisings, Native American affairs, environmental issues, court diversion/restitution cases, desegregation of schools, community development projects, labor management issues, public policy disputes, and environmental scenarios. He is also the Co-Director of the Russian-American Program on Conflictology and the Sudan-American Program for Peace. We have worked together in Russia, Cuba, and Sudan.
Alexander Gritsinin is the Governance and Management Advisor to the Global Environmental Governance Project. He is an expert in management, corporate environmental sustainability, environmental governance and sustainable development. Mr. Gritsinin brings to IMTD over 15 years of international management and policy experience in high-profile organizations and research institutions, including Coca-Cola, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), UNESCO, The Nature Conservancy, Uzbekistan National Center for Research in Oncology, and Yale University.

Michaela Hertkorn, Ph.D.

Michaela Hertkorn is a professor at the New School University where she teaches international affairs. Michaela interned with IMTD in 1997. She is also an associate scholar with the Foundation for Post-Conflict Development in New York. Michaela holds a Ph.D. in political science from Free University Berlin. She has written widely about European affairs, transatlantic relations and the challenges following war. Michaela recently published a children's book, 'Little Cloud Upset', which introduces young children to global social issues.

Richard Moon, MA

Mr. Moon joined IMTD at the first Lake Trails camp in 1999 where he showed the young participants how to use Aikido as a conflict resolution tool. Richard lives in San Rafael, California and coaches business leaders and corporations as a partner in the Performance Edge, an Aikido-based consulting firm.

Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Ph.D.

Dr. Abu-Nimer has been conducting negotiation and conflict resolution training workshops for diplomats, community leaders, journalists, academics, and other professionals internationally since 1980. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution department of the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC. He has been an integral part of IMTD's work with Care Sri Lanka.

Jonathan W. Reitman Esq., J.D.

Mr. Reitman has been affiliated with IMTD since 1999. He is a lawyer and is a partner with Gosline, Reitman & Ainsworth, which is based in Brunswick, Maine and offers dispute resolution services to a wide variety of clientele. Jonathan also teaches at the local law school and is one of the three key consultants who work on IMTD's Youth Leadership Adventure Program in Bosnia.

Stanford Siver, MBA, Ph.D.

Dr. Siver, IMTD's former Executive Director is currently the Director of the Global Process Institute, an organization promoting process oriented awareness based interventions in conflict and dialogue. See

Peter Swanson, MA

Mr. Swanson has served as a mediator and facilitator in a wide variety of negotiated rulemaking, public policy, enforcement, grant administration, EEO, employment, and labor related disputes. He was a commissioner with the Federal Meditation and Conciliation Service and a consultant in conflict resolution for the Tibetan Government in Exile.

Carol Yamasaki, MA

Ms. Yamasaki is an expert in the martial art of Aikido, lives in San Rafael, California, and is the lead consultant since 1999 for the Youth Leadership Adventure Program. She has spent a great deal of time traveling within Bosnia and Herzegovina coaching the YLA participants in project design and implementation.

Asmat Zaidi

Architect Azmat Zaidi is a licensed architect from Pakistan. He is a longtime member of the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP). From 2005 to 2006, Mr. Zaidi was the Chairman of Institute of Architects, Pakistan, Rawalpindi/ Islamabad Chapter. He is now a vital link for our ongoing Kartarpur Corridor project at the Institute.

Mahmud Elshtewi

Dr. Elshtewi became the Dean of the Medical Sciences School at the Alacademia for Graduate Studies, Tripoli University in 2013. Dr. Elshtewi is hosting an IMTD office in his new NGO in Tripoli called the National Academy For Education Services. IMTD-Tripoli will initially be focused on Peer Mediation at the middle and high school levels.

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