Mission and Approach

The Herbert C. Kelman Institute for Interactive Conflict Transformation (HKI) is an independent non-partisan, nongovernmental organisation registered in Austria. The Institute is engaged in integrative and interactive conflict transformation, multi-track mediation and peacebuilding in international and intra-societal conflicts. The objectives are to advance transformation of conflicts through crisis leveraging and multi-track mediation across worldviews.

The Institute acknowledges the need to transform conflicts in an integrative manner: at all levels (micro-, meso-, macro-level) during all phases (before, during and after violence) and at all degrees of escalation, with manifold methods (actor-oriented, interaction-oriented, structure-oriented, and culture-oriented methods). It emphasises the interdependence of conflict transformation, peacebuilding, reconciliation, empowerment for social change and intercultural dialogue.

The Institute applies an interactive approach which emphasizes local ownership of conflict transformation processes. This means above all conducting participatory conflict transformation research, together with representatives of conflict parties and inside-mediators, who jointly own the process.

Acknowledging the deep pluralism of values and beliefs characterizing many modern societies, particularly non-Western ones, the institute supports the involvement of excluded worldviews and stakeholders – liberal and non-liberal, secular and religious, men and women, youth and elderly – in conflict transformation activities. The institute sees a need to share the achieved results and proposals not only with official leaders and negotiators, nor only with forces that are already ready for dialogue, but also with those who reject it.

The approach is based on trans-disciplinary research, drawing insight from international conflict and peace research, critical systems theory, cultural studies, political psychology and group psychotherapy. The constant development and refinement of this integrative theory and praxis is based on dialogue and cooperation with internationally renowned institutions, university centres, networks, theoreticians, practitioners and activists.