Deepening Democracy – Dispute System Design and the Mediation of Contested Parades in Northern Ireland

Michael Hamilton, Dominic Bryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The design of democratic institutions is a critical factor in determining their capacity to forestall, or limit the escalation of, identity-based conflict. In particular, the incorporation of dispute resolution mechanisms in institutional structures can create new spaces that facilitate dialogue and, potentially, greater recognition between disputants. Institutions, though, do more than merely provide alternative or new fora for dialogue: they can also serve to frame the terms of such interaction and, in so doing, funnel and re-articulate conceptions of justice and the public interest. Furthermore, they can enable the "bottom-up" negotiation of "satisfiers"-those measures capable of meeting or accommodating the multiple interests at stake. In this way, institutional design can bear directly upon the quality of democratic dialogue, serving either to expand or diminish the reserves of political opportunity. We argue that focusing greater attention on the design of dispute resolution mechanisms can help counteract the polarizing tendencies of elite mobilization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-187
Number of pages55
JournalOhio State Journal on Dispute Resolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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