Importance of a (open and democratic) Dialogue, and Stage-Building for Dialogue, in Conflict Resolution and for Problem-Solving
Lecturer Lassi Heininen, University of Lapland

In conflict resolution confidence is needed. To build mutual confidence and trust is neither automatic nor easy, and requests not only patience, but also willingness and concrete steps for new arrangements to move from the previous enemy-picture to a new state of open-minded attitude. By his theory of Functionalism David Mitrany has developed one method for peace-building between two former rivals and enemies which is based on confidence-building through experiences of functional cooperation.

Either to use this theory or another conflict resolution method, a dialogue between the parties is needed. Further, it matters what kind of dialogue, since a real confidence is constructed by an open discussion on the conflict. Better an open, equal and democratic dialogue, where participants coming from a wide range of stakeholders build meaningful communication across perspectives and engage each others’ arguments. This is to say that a dialogue is no battle in which each participant tries to make his or her own horizon win a contest of competing perspectives.

Correspondingly, for an open and equal dialogue it is needed to have and promote new and wider, even global, platforms and arena which are also for fresh thinking and bold new ideas from the leading minds. Finally, in conflict resolution as well as problem-solving (of big challenges such as climate change) it is needed to have, maintain and feed constant interplay between politics and civil society and that between politics and science on relevant and acute issues. In international politics and cooperation, for example in the Nordic and other institutional northern cooperation, there are some good experiences, even some sort of agreement, on the fact that the interplay between politics and science does exist and is fruitful.

Dr. Lassi Heininen

Dr. Lassi Heininen is University Lecturer and Adjunct Professor (Docent) at Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lapland, Finland. Among his other academic positions are Adjunct Professor at Frost Center for Canadian Studies, Trent University, Canada; Adjunct Professor at Faculty of Geography, University of Oulu, Finland; and Visiting Professor at University of Akureyri, Iceland. He is also the chairman of the International Steering Committee for the Northern Research Forum.

His research fields include International Relations, Geopolitics, Security Studies, Environmental Politics, Political History, European Studies, Russian Studies and Northern / Arctic Studies.

His publications include circa 50 scientific articles in peer-reviewed and other international scientific journals and edited volumes, circa 80 scientific articles in Finnish peer-reviewed and other scientific journals and conference proceedings and 12 scientific monographs. Among the recent articles are "The Changing Geo-Politics of the North", Arctic Idea, August 2008; "Different images of the Arctic, and the circumpolar North in world politics", Knowledge and Power in the Arctic. Conference proceedings; "The Importance of Northern Dimension Foreign Policies in the Geopolitics of the Circumpolar North" (together with Heather Nicol), Geopolitics, Vol. 12, 2007; "Impacts of Globalization, and the Circumpolar North in World Politics", Polar Geography, Vol. 29, 2005, No. 2; "Circumpolar International Relations and Geopolitics", AHDR (Arctic Human Development Report) 2004. 

 Lassi Heininen