The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2005 was awarded to two scholars who developed the use of game theory to analyze public policy. Their understanding of human behavior in managing conflict is a significant step towards making cooperation more likely in resolving disputes.
One outgrowth of the July 19 – 21, 2005, GPAC (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict) work, i.e., the Global Conference on Civil Society: Forging Partnerships to Prevent Violent Conflict and Build Peace, that took place at the United Nations, in New York, is the decision, in December, 2005, by the General Assembly and Security Council, to create a Peacebuilding Commission to help stabilize and rebuild societies emerging from war. CNCR is a member of GPAC and has been working for several years to create a capacity, globally, for assisting countries to re-build after the cessation of civil strife, which, we believe, is critical to effective conflict resolution.
Jan Eliasson of Sweden, president of the General Assembly, told the New York Times (December 21, 2005) that the commission was critical for keeping war-torn countries from reverting to hostilities, which, he said, had occurred in half the cases over the past 20 years where conflicts had ended.
The commission is intended to pick up the international effort in such countries when peacekeeping missions are completing their tasks of bringing fighting to an end and monitoring cease-fires Again, in the New York Times, Secretary General Kofi Annan told the GA that while many parts of the UN had traditionally been involved in helping countries in longer-term recovery after protracted conflicts, there had never been an entity to coordinate those activities, develop expertise and strategy and focus attention on reconstruction and building of institutions. “Too often,” he said, “a fragile peace has been allowed to crumble into renewed conflict.”
The commission will have 31 members, seven of which, including the 5 veto-holding permanent members, will come from the Security Council; 7 from the Economic and Social Council; and others from nations that suppy the most troops for peacekeeping missions and also represent geographical balance. Representatives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among other institutional donors, are expected to attend commission meetings. The commission will advise the Security Council and submit reports to the General Assembly for debate.
In an effort to break the persistent impasse over health care coverage, and at a time when Congress has been torn by partisan battles, a nascent collaboration is taking place among 24 ideologically disparate leaders, representing the health care industry, corporations and unions, and conservative and liberal groups, a process that reached the front page of the New York Times. The group has been meeting secretly from October, 2004, to see if a consensus can be reached on proposals to provide coverage for the growing number of people who have no healthcare coverage. It intends to present its recommendations to Congress and to the Bush administration, and, several members have indicated that they would stick together to use their collective power to fight for the proposals the group generates.
Robert Pear, The New York Times, May 29, 2005
CNCR colleague and associate, Associate Professor Mark Aakhus, Rutgers Department of Communication, recently facilitated a strategic planning meeting for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the College of Rural Alaska Health Programs. The process, involving 23 participants involved in the delivery of rural health in Alaska, produced a document that will be presented to the Denali Commission, which is a federal-state partnership designed to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska. This document will also serve as a comprehensive planning document to identify current and future funding for the Community Health Aide Program (CHAP).
Community Health Aides and Community Health Practitioners are non-physician providers responsible for health care in the remote villages of rural Alaska (http://www.ykhc.org).
A key feature of the meeting, in terms of facilitation and collaboration, was the use of GroupSystems II (http://www.groupsystems.com/). Each meeting participant was given a laptop computer linked through a wireless network with GSII software. GSII software optimizes networked computers to support group collaboration, problem-solving, and decision-making. The software, for example, supports important group communication functions such as brainstorming, categorizing, voting, stakeholder analysis, and writing.
The software enables people in a face-to-face meeting to maximize their time together by combining writing and speaking. Within the first 20 minutes of the meeting, for example, the 23 participants produced over 100 ideas about solving training needs. The facilitator was also wirelessly linked and used a large projection screen to display results and text to the group. After brainstorming, the group, under the guidance of the facilitator, spent the next 1.5 hours using the system to synthesize and categorize those ideas into 7 plausible courses of action to address training needs. During the afternoon, the group prioritized the courses of action and broke into sub-groups to write detailed action plans using the writing support features. The action plans were then reviewed and edited by the entire group and specific budget parameters were determined. A final group report was created and given to each participant before the end of the day.
According to Professor Aakhus, “The meeting participants and meeting conveners were happy with the process and pleased with the meeting outcomes. They had accomplished some things they had never before accomplished and built new paths for further innovation and collaboration in delivering health care in rural Alaska.”
Aakhus offers the following observations on the collaboration: “In 8 hours the group produced a final comprehensive planning document. The diffuse ideas of 23 people were transformed into a coherent set of specific, fundable action items embraced by the group. This form of facilitation overcomes many problems that grow out of traditional forms of facilitation even when the traditional forms are successful. For example, there are many matters that require sub-committees or extra turnaround time once a traditional meeting is over, such as finalizing details of plans and document production. These can be accomplished during the computer supported facilitated meeting. When the group leaves the facilitated meeting they collectively move ahead on carrying out their agreements rather sub-dividing to handle the unfinished business of the meeting.”
For additional information, please contact:
Mark Aakhus, PhD