Why INP Matters: From North America to the Middle East, North Korea to the Great Lakes Region, rising divisions are threatening peace and security–yet the traditional tools of decision making are insufficient for resolving them. Contemporary polarizations tend to implicate ideological grievances, historical animosity, and tribalistic dynamics–forces that are immune to rational intervention alone. In fact, most “new” conflicts typically are the reemergence of longstanding disputes, and globalization now ensures that no region of the world is immune from their impact on human life, economic growth, and international justice and order.
The INP Method: At the Harvard International Negotiation Program, we research the emotional and identity-based dynamics of conflict and develop practical tools for overcoming them. Founded in 2003, our faculty have produced foundational conflict resolution texts such as Beyond Reason and Negotiating the Nonnegotiable, advised key global leadership and grassroots organizations confronting large-scale conflict, and field-tested ideas in the crucibles of conflict. We have spread our empirically supported frameworks and tools to people at all levels of society, including to governments leaders and businesses leaders, NGOs, and other organizations.
Our work is founded on three basic principles for addressing contemporary divisions:
- Psychological insights are critical. Facts and figures are important, but emotions and identity are key drivers in high-stakes conflicts. A threat to who we are and what we stand for can trigger powerful emotions that impel us to act against our rational interests. But INP’s research also shows that the key to resolving these conflicts lies in the constructive use of emotions and identity.
- Sustainable peace requires multi-stakeholder cooperation. While conflict is often negotiated by a small segment of actors—typically political decision makers and opposition groups—sustainable peace requires involvement of a wider range of involved parties, including business leaders, lawyers, economists, spiritual leaders, psychologists, global health experts, and civil society representatives.
- Prevention works best. Rather than wait for conflict to escalate, INP spreads its methodologies proactively, increasing the likelihood that parties will be well-equipped to negotiate peaceful resolution to emergent conflicts. Our prevention work drastically reduces the human and economic costs of conflict – and at times has helped parties avert conflict altogether.
To address the interdisciplinary roots of conflict resolution, INP is based in the psychology program at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital and affiliated with the Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard Law School. We work closely with faculty and students across disciplines at Harvard University.