Good Offices in a War-Weary World


Michele Ferenze, Executive Producer

An exploration of the role of "good offices" providers in long-standing, complex conflicts


Since the end of the Cold War, ethnic animosity, unresolved sovereignty claims, and persistent poverty have unleashed renewed violence in dozens of simmering conflicts — creating more pressure than ever to find improved conflict resolution methods. The Consensus Building Institute and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School have identified “good offices” as a particular type of third-party engagement in hot disputes that deserves closer study because it stands out as one of the most viable and least controversial methods of intervention.

A “good offices” provider is a person or organization of some standing that provides a physically and psychologically safe setting for the facilitation of negotiation. The provider’s role is to try to help the parties “get to readiness” to negotiate by correcting misperceptions, clarifying issues, and facilitating communication. The good offices provider might be an outside neutral or a group of stakeholders; in either case, an effective good offices provider represents a strong principle or process.

Rich with examples and commentary from experts in the field of public dispute resolution, this video explores the nature, functions, benefits, and potential of the “good offices” role. Speakers include Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Roger Fisher, MIT Professor Lawrence Susskind, and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Professor Eileen Babbit, as well as distinguished representatives from international conflict management, peacemaking, and aid organizations.


Good Offices in a War-Weary World Attributes

Time Required:
30 Minutes – 1 Hour
Teaching Notes Available:
Run Time:
34 Minutes
Produced by:
Michele Ferenze
The Consensus Building Institute and the Program on Negotiation (2000)

PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.