Multi-track diplomacy is an approach to conflict resolution that acknowledges and utilizes the roles of various levels of society in peace-building and conflict resolution efforts. The concept is based on the idea that conflict resolution is most effective when it addresses all levels of society, from the top leadership down to the grassroots.
The term was first introduced by Louise Diamond and John McDonald in the early 1990s. They identified nine ‘tracks’ of diplomacy, which include:
Track I: This is official government diplomacy where decision-makers and influencers shape foreign policy. It’s often characterized by formal dialogues, negotiations, or summits.
Track II: This involves non-governmental or informal actors who try to influence Track I actors or engage directly with actors from the adversary. Examples could include scientists, academics, former officials, or other professionals.
Track III: This refers to people-to-people diplomacy, such as exchange programs and other activities aimed at enhancing understanding and building relationships among individuals from conflicting states.
Track IV: This is called private sector diplomacy and involves business persons and companies that can contribute to economic development and provide jobs which can help in peace-building.
Track V: Research, training, and education diplomacy, involving peace institutes and other academic and training programs.
Track VI: Activism through peace movements, grassroots movements, and non-governmental organizations that focus on human rights and social justice.
Track VII: Involves religion, faith-based peacemaking, and the use of spiritual resources and leadership for conflict resolution.
Track VIII: Funding diplomacy, which includes philanthropy and funding of peace-building initiatives by donors and development agencies.
Track IX: Communications and the media’s role in shaping perceptions and narratives around conflicts and peace processes.
Multi-track diplomacy underscores the fact that peace-building and conflict resolution are complex and multi-faceted processes that require the engagement of all sectors of society. The idea is to synergize the efforts of different actors in society to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace.