International Negotiation: Systems Thinking and Peace Building

Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques for Peacebuilding and Resolving International Conflicts

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Policymakers, practitioners, and academics have seized on the need for peacebuilding negotiation strategies in international negotiations to be as complex and adaptive as the societies within which they work.  As a result, there are loud calls for “whole of government” or “whole of community” approaches that cross traditional sectoral boundaries.  The problem is that these approaches are very difficult to implement.  In his talk, Rob Ricigliano presented an overview of his new book, Making Peace Last (April 2012), which articulates the theory and practice of systemic peacebuilding; a holistic approach to dealing with complex adaptive social systems in negotiations.  In the last two years, the author has worked with USAID, the US Department of State, and the US Department of Defense to integrate systems thinking tools into their assessment and planning frameworks.


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.

Robert Ricigliano is the Director of the Institute of World Affairs, Center for International Education at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where he teaches International Mediation and Peacebuilding through the Department of Communication, and he is the Coordinator of the Certificate in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. He is also a former Executive Director of the Conflict Management Group and served as an Associate Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard Law School.

Mr. Ricigliano has worked to incorporate systems thinking tools into peacebuilding, including projects with the US Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense. He has worked with officials all over the world to help resolve conflict. He has worked with political parties in the new Iraqi Parliament and has been involved in peacebuilding interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Russia, Georgia, Colombia, South Africa, and elsewhere.

This article was drawn from an event held by the Program on Negotiation, “Systems Thinking and Peacebuilding: A New Frontier?” with Robert Ricigliano, Director of the Institute of World Affairs, Center for International Education at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee on Thursday, April 5, 2012.

See also: Negotiation and Nonviolent Action – Interacting in a World of Conflict – Negotiation strategies for engaging in conflict resolution using nonviolent action have helped resolve or manage intractable disputes. Experts and practitioners of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), mediation, and conflict management professionals underestimate of negotiation or non-violent action as a means to resolve disputes. This articles discusses the intersection of negotiation research and nonviolent action. It examines each field’s commitment in constructive engagement with conflict resolution scenarios.  


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.

Related International Negotiation Article: International Negotiations and Agenda Setting

Originally published on March 20, 2012.

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