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Christopher Mitchell

This edition of the International Journal of Peace Studies has largely been written as a tribute to one of the pioneers of the field of conflict analysis and resolution, John W. Burton, who is now in retirement in Australia, his native country. The issue partly pays a tribute to John Burton because of the pioneering work - both intellectual and practical - that he undertook during the period between 1960 and 1990, but especially in the "early days" of the development of the field, when it was struggling to achieve acceptance among dubious academics and sceptical policy makers. Burton was one of a generation of men and women - Kenneth and Elise Boulding, Morton Deutsch, Johan Galtung, Anatol Rapoport, Herbert Kelman, Chadwick Alger - who worked to make the field not only accepted but rigorous, relevant and challenging. The fact that, currently, there are over 200 conflict and peace studies programs in United States universities alone, that Alternative Dispute Resolution is deemed an essential part of any legal system, and that politicians and journalists routinely use and sometimes understand the concepts and language of the field, is in no small part due to this initially small number of scholar-practitioners. Among them Burton played a pre-eminent role.

The articles in the edition of IJPS are of two types. Some represent recent unpublished writings by Burton himself, short and pithy but continuing a number of themes he has written about extensively elsewhere - the links between domestic politics and external conflict, for example, or the need for systematising innovative ways of "coping with" conflicts. Other articles are by a number of Burton's colleagues, who assess some of his varied contributions to the field of conflict analysis and resolution. David Dunn discusses Burton's contribution to their parent field of International Relations and the impact of Burton's ideas on the very conservative British branch of this discipline. Dennis Sandole, who has worked with Burton on both sides of the Atlantic, traces through some Burtonian ideas and their impact on his own thinking. Richard Rubenstein takes up Burton's theory of Basic Human Needs, and comments on the way in which these ideas have been extended since Burton published his pioneering works in the 1980s and early 1990s. My own piece looks back over thirty years to the beginnings of problem solving workshops and the manner in which these were developed as a basic tool of conflict resolution.

Undoubtedly there will be those who will feel that we have left out this or that important aspect of Burton's work, or that we have wrongly emphasised the effects of some of his ideas. With a figure like John Burton, however, it is difficult to do full justice to the range of issues he has taken up and discussed, or the contribution he has made to this or that line of thought. However, we hope there is enough here to provide some flavour of Burton's work, of the impact he has had on the development of our field and of that field's intellectual and practical debt to him.