The power of dialogue in managing conflicts

One essential part of culture among the Kanaks, the indigenous people of New Caledonia, is the ritual known as Coutume. These are conversations sometimes lasting for several days that end with a tacit agreement sealed by looking into one another’s eyes, thereby binding all involved to respect them. Kanak society bases its relations on dialogue, meaning that this rite, with its sacred dimension, holds enormous value and demands strong commitment from those who take part in it. There is a time to speak, to listen, to come to an agreement and to make a decision.

Much of the tension arising in conflict management processes, and particularly among the indigenous population, stems from their hostility towards the decision-making bodies and methods imposed upon them by the colonial state, all considered foreign to their culture and traditions. Thus, when addressing conflicts, it is essential that the methods used are acceptable to both sides, that the sides mutually recognise one another, that trust and balance between them is built and that they all assume the commitment to fulfil the agreements made.

Film: Rebellion (L’ordre et la morale)

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  • San Sebastián Donostia 2016
  • Donostiako Udala. Ayuntamiento de San Sebastián
  • donostiakultura.com. San Sebastián: ciudad de la cultura
  • AIETE: Casa de la Paz y los Derechos Humanos