UNITAR Facilitates Final Columbia Law School Course of 2016

2 December 2016, New York, USA - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), in partnership with Columbia Law School and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations, continued the series entitled, “Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Negotiation”. The third course took place on 2 December 2016 and was entitled, “Conflict Resolution as a Tool for Innovation”. Over 30 diplomats, mostly from Forum of Small States (FOSS) members attended the event sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations

Professor Shawn Watts, Director Suazo, and Professor Alex Carter (left to right)The session was opened with remarks from Mr. Marco Suazo thanking the participants for coming, especially those that had been in attendance of the previous workshops. He also conveyed his gratitude to the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations for their generous sponsorship of the series of courses. Opening remarks were made by both professors, Professor Alexandra Carter and Professor Shawn Watts. The workshop was then opened.

The professors initiated the workshop with an exercise for the participants. The participants were asked to participate in a game theory exercise. After the exercise was concluded, the participants shared their experiences and the strategies they used to gather more points. Many highlighted the difficulties of trust, since it was impossible to know if others were going to play the way they had claimed. Others highlighted the issues of not knowing if they were putting emphasis on gathering points individually or as team. The professors then pointed out that in short term negotiations, focusing on individuals may be more advantageous, but in long term negotiations, team oriented mediation is more advantageous.

The professors then began to discuss innovation, Participants shared their views on what innovation entailed. The professors then highlighted how innovative solutions could be applied to conflict by highlighting the difference between task and relational conflict. Task conflict, which pertains to mediation focusing on specific issues, has a higher potential for innovative solutions than relational conflict, which is focused on difference of people and relationships. The conversation continued by looking at loss framing and gain framing, which is framing goals and outcomes either in terms of loss or gains. The professors highlighted that gain-framing is more likely to create more innovative solutions.

After a short coffee break, the participants were presented with a list of important traits of leaders presented by the Harvard Business Review. The participants were asked in groups to rate the traits be level of importance. After comparing results the traits were revealed as they had been ranked by Harvard Business Review. The session was then ended for the lunch break.Group photo of all participants in the last Columbia Law School course of 2016

After lunch, the participants experienced an exercise where a group was asked to hold hands and tangle themselves up. Then another person was given the task of untangling the group without any communication. After the exercise concluded the group discussed some of the barriers that restricted communication had on achieving the goal of untangling. To highlight innovative solutions, groups were then presented with a riddle of a ball stuck in a tube. A list was provided of tools that were at their disposal and they were asked to brainstorm ways to extract the ball. The groups then shared their solutions with others, trying to find innovative ways to extract the ball with the materials provided, including their own bodies.

After a short afternoon coffee break, the participants were then asked to participate in a brainstorming exercise where they were asked to identify a problem in common among the group and possible solutions. The participants were asked to share what problems and solutions they settled upon, and discussed how they came to agreement on the topics.

After the participants filled out evaluations of the workshop, a group photo was taken. The workshop and 2016 series were then closed.    

Photo Credit: UNITAR