Common Ground


Prof. Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

In the early 1980s, Canada was divided into two camps, supporters and opponents of nuclear energy. Animosities between the two groups had risen to such an extent that they would not meet in the same room. The government tried to mediate between the two groups, but was unsuccessful. Dr. Hossain Danesh was asked for help.

He met with the opponents of nuclear energy to ask why they opposed it. They explained that they were concerned about future generations. Nuclear energy risked causing accidents that could release radioactive waste into the environment, and the problem of storing nuclear waste was not solved.

Then he met with the supporters of nuclear energy to ask why they supported it. They explained that they were concerned about future generations. Without nuclear energy, Canada would eventually run out of fossil fuels, and future generations would suffer from cold and disease, and industries would have to be closed because of a lack of energy.

Telling the two groups that both shared a common concern, about their children and children’s children, their representatives agreed to meet. In dialogues, they were able to agree on a common solution, a few nuclear power plants with very high safety standards.

Unity based conflict resolution does not focus on the points of disagreement, but seeks points of unity, common interest, and gradually expands from there, to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to problems.


Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Sep 2017.

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