Negotiating Indigenous Land Rights

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Indigenous Land Rights

Teach Your Students to Address Fundamental Value Differences While Negotiating Indigenous Land Rights

Indigenous land rights have been a key aspect of negotiations by private companies and governments around the world. Indigenous land rights are the rights of indigenous peoples to land and natural resources, which they have occupied for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Land is of fundamental importance to many indigenous peoples because of religious significance, self-determination, and tribe identity. Negotiations between private companies or governments and indigenous peoples often involve complicated issues, including how to address identity and fundamental value differences, as well as resource allocation.

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) has developed a wide variety of negotiation simulations to teach students how to negotiate indigenous land rights. Three of the TNRC’s most useful simulations for negotiating indigenous land rights are Big Pipeline in Swagwit, The Guatemala Role Play, and Hydropower in Santales.

Big Pipeline in Swagwit

This thirty minute, two-party, two-issue integrative negotiation between representatives of a construction company and a Native American group addresses building a pipeline through indigenous land and allocation of construction jobs associated with the project. Major lessons include:

  • Knowing your own BATNA and interests.
  • Trading across issues you value differently.
  • Using standards you both accept to help you choose among options and packages.
  • Effective cross cultural communication.
The Guatemala Role Play

This three hour, six-person mediated negotiation among representatives of the Guatemalan government, military, rebel groups, indigenous people, and U.S. government addresses post-armed-conflict human rights, land claims, and cultural and political rights issues. The three issues on the table are how to protect human rights, how to deal with Mayan land claims, and how to recognize Mayan cultural and political rights. Major lessons include:

  • This role play underscores the relevance of general lessons about “basic” negotiation skills as they apply to multi-party, multi-issue negotiations: e.g., active listening, improving one’s BATNA, focusing on interests rather than positions, inventing options for mutual gain, etc.
  • Imparts an understanding of the processes of international treaty negotiations as they are currently conducted.
  • Highlights the importance of understanding the human dimension in ethnic conflict and the difficulty of proposing solutions without grasping the complexity of the relationships.
  • Emphasizes the importance of understanding the interests of internal constituencies and designing negotiation strategies which manage the link between internal and external negotiations, as well as the importance of creating external coalitions without letting internal coalitions crumble.
Hydropower in Santales

This two hour, six-party, multi-issue mediated negotiation addresses the construction of a hydropower plant in South America. The development of the project could bring jobs and infrastructure investment to Villaverde, but would probably reduce the flow of the river, which could threaten the livelihoods of many community members, including local residents and nearby indigenous people. Major lessons include:

  • Expose participants to different viewpoints and interests regarding energy development and related land use dilemmas.
  • Importance of voicing those different interests and perspectives early in the project development process (e.g. for identifying project impacts and possible design alternatives).
  • Questions about the role and responsibility of the mediator in: helping parties listen to each other, raising constructive options, clarifying solutions reached, and drafting written agreements.
  • Build competency with brainstorming creative options based on party interests.
  • Address fundamental value differences as a key source of disagreement among parties.

Take your training to the next level with the TNRC

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including

Most TNRC materials are designed for educational purposes— for use in college classrooms or corporate training settings. TNRC cases and exercises help mediators and facilitators introduce their clients to a process or issue and help individuals who want to enhance their negotiation skills and knowledge.

Role-play simulations introduce participants to new negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. Videos are also a helpful way of introducing viewers to key concepts, and TNRC books, case studies, and periodicals address the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict management.

Check out all that the TNRC has in store >> 

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