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Divided Societies: Negotiating the Past, Present and Future

Virtual Conference

26-27 January 2022 - afternoon CET

Societies around the world are increasingly struggling with the emergence of deep rifts among their populations. Topics such as Covid-19, Brexit, #MeToo and climate change can quickly become polarising, stifling debate and preventing meaningful action to address common problems. Societal conflicts are not simply a challenge for political actors but have a direct impact on our daily lives and how we deal with one another. This conference will examine the role that negotiating our past, present, and future can play in overcoming social divisions. Organized by the Institute for Global Negotiation in collaboration with the Chair of Political Philosophy and the Centre for Ethics at the University of Zurich, the goal of the conference is to link junior researchers and professionals with senior practitioners and academics to discuss contemporary topics in the field of global negotiation. To this end, the virtual conference will comprise of one keynote speech, and three expert-led panel discussions centred on the overarching theme of “Divided Societies: Negotiating the Past, Present, and Future”.

Salwa el Gantri.jpg
Willem Ellis.jpg

Panel 1

Negotiating the PastRe-establishing Trust by Creating a Shared History

The panel considers ways to deal with historic wrongdoing within a society and how trust between social groups as well as between members of the society and political and legal institutions can be rebuilt. 

Expert: Salwa el Gantri, Head of Tunisia Office of International Center for Transitional Justice

Chaired by: Myriam Sauter, Institute for Global Negotiation

Panel 2

Negotiating the Present: Overcoming Social Conflict 

The panel looks at ways of overcoming social conflict​ through conflict transformation and dialogue drawing on the experience of post-apartheid South Africa.  

Expert: Willem Ellis, Research Fellow, Centre for Ethics, Gender & Africa Studies, University of the Free State

Chaired by: Max Horder, Princeton University

Panel 3

Negotiating the Future: The Potential of Citizens Assemblies to Overcome Political Deadlock

The panel examines the potential for citizens assemblies to overcome future societal conflicts by moving away from political posturing and fostering solution-orientated collaboration instead. 


Expert: Graham Smith, Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), University of Westminster and Chair of the Knowledge Network on Climate Assemblies (KNOCA)


Chaired by: Jack R. Williams, Institute for Global Negotiation.

Overview & Registration

You can find the schedule and programme for the full conference here.

Participation in the conference is ​open to all who are interested - simply complete the registration form below by Tuesday 25 January at 17:00 (CET).

Application for panel participation is encouraged for early-stage researchers and professionals who are interested in taking part in one of the three panel discussions. To apply please send your CV and a short letter of motivation outlining which panel you'd like to take part in and why to apps@global-negotiation.org. Panel applications are accepted until 17:00 (CET) on Friday 8 January 2022.

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