The Third Side: The Peacekeeper

Providing Protection in Times of Conflict

A Peacekeeper's Guide to the Beyond Intractability Website

  • When a fight breaks out, are you likely to take measures to calm the situation?
  • When you see a situation begin to escalate, do you take some action to try to deescalate the problem?
  • If you see a disagreement happening on the street in front of you, are you likely to speak out and help the parties to settle their problems peaceably?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above questions, then you may be a peacekeeper. This Web page is designed to provide useful information for those who work to mitigate the destructive impact of conflict through peacekeeping efforts.

Who are Peacekeepers?

Peacekeepers are those who position themselves between fighting parties to keep them physically apart. This role is not limited to specialists like police officers and UN forces, although they frequently play this role.

Rather, this is a community role that anyone may be called upon to play. When two children fight, for example, adults can step in the middle and, if necessary, physically pull the two apart. Children often do this themselves, actually. Some are natural peacekeepers; many more are trained to play that role as playground "mediators," who first step in to stop fights and then help the fighting children mediate the problem on the spot.

In extended family conflicts, often one family member tends to play a peacekeeping role, trying to keep the hostile family members apart as much as possible. Others do the same kind of thing in workplace conflicts or neighborhood conflicts, either before a major fight develops, or after it has, to try to prevent its escalation.

For More Information

Much of the material on this user guide is drawn from Thanks to William Ury and Joshua Weiss for giving us permission to republish their material here.