Situations in which no official diplomatic relations or recognition exist between belligerent parties, especially conflicts between a state and a non-state actor, pose major challenges to modern diplomacy. They suggest a need for actors who can serve as a diplomatic avant-garde. This article identifies a diplomatic pattern in which breakthroughs occur through cooperative work between two types of actors: unofficial citizen diplomats and key figures in intelligence bodies. Each actor brings his/her resources: unofficial actors have contacts with the other side, while intelligence officers can offer backing from within the official system. The article analyzes the topic using three case studies: Brendan Duddy and the MI6 officer Michael Oatley (UK and the Provisional IRA, 1975–1993); Willie Esterhuyse and the head of the South African National Intelligence Service, Neil Barnard (South African government and the ANC, 1987–1990); and Gershon Baskin and the Mossad official David Meidan (Israel and Hamas, 2011). This study examines the unique relations between these two types of actors and how their collaboration   promoted negotiations with paramilitary or terrorist organizations. It analyzes three stages: establishment of contact between these actors, persuasion of the relevant parties, and the breakthrough moment when talks shifted to an official back channel.

Dr. Lior Lehrs is an Israel Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at the Taub Center for Israel Studies at New York University. Lior wrote his doctoral dissertation, “Private Peace Entrepreneurs in Conflict Resolution Processes,” in the department of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prior to his position at the Taub Center, Lior was a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, where he focused on the topic of Jerusalem within Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and on conflicts in holy sites. He is also a Fellow at Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, and he was a Doctoral Fellow at Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace.


Dr. Lior Lehrs, author

Postdoctoral Fellow, Taub Center for Israel Studies, New York University


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

12:15 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

1302 International Affairs Building

School of International and Public Affairs

420 West 118th Street

New York City