Values-based / Identity-based Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Guatemala Role Play, TheWorkable Peace: Indigenous Rights and the Environment in Latin America

Michael Maturo, Kate Mahoney, Francisco Ingouville and Anthony Wanis St. John, under the direction of David Fairman
Six-person mediated negotiation among representatives of the Guatemalan government, military, rebel groups, indigenous people, and U.S. government to address post-armed-conflict human rights, land claims, and cultural and political rights issues

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The Guatemala Role Play is a simulation from the Workable Peace Curriculum Series unit on Indigenous Rights and the Environment in Latin America.


Guatemala has been an ethnically, economically, and politically divided society for over 450 years. In the early 1960s, some army officers who opposed the military government organized small guerrilla rebel factions. Soon, these rebel factions organized into a larger military force known as the URNG. As the URNG began to defeat government forces in the countryside, the government decided to put pressure on the URNG and their supporters. Thousands of indigenous people were killed and their villages destroyed.

After years of negotiations, the Guatemalan government and the URNG signed an “Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace” in 1996. Despite the peace accord, several issues remain to be resolved. This follow-up negotiation takes place in 1998. The Guatemalan Minister of the Interior will chair a negotiation that includes representatives from the Guatemalan military, the URNG, and the ethnic Mayans living in Guatemala, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala. 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.



  • 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.
  • Provides a means for exploring the political dynamics and economic issues likely to emerge during an actual negotiation
  • 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.
  • Demonstrates how members of groups in conflict can take steps toward a workable peace by negotiating truces, recognizing each others’ right to meet basic needs, and making rules for settling their conflicts and meeting their needs without violence.


Teacher’s Package Includes:

  • Participant materials
  • Teaching Note
  • Master List of Player Goals
  • Framework for a Workable Peace
  • Workable Peace Self-Assessment Form
  • Overheads
  • Observation/Assessment Instructions


If you would like additional information about the Workable Peace framework and teaching materials, including information about teacher training and support, please contact Workable Peace Co-Directors David Fairman or Stacie Smith at:

The Consensus Building Institute, Inc.
238 Main Street, Suite 400
Cambridge, MA 02142
Phone: 617-492-1414
Fax: 617-492-1919


Guatemala Role Play, The Attributes

Time required:
3-5 hours
Number of participants:
Teams involved:
Agent present:
Neutral third party present:
Teaching notes available:
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You are then permitted to view the document on your computer and either print the number of copies you purchased, or forward the electronic file as many times as the number of copies you purchased. You will only receive a link to one electronic file per document. So, if you order 25 soft copies, you may either forward copies of the link to 25 people via e-mail, or print (and/or photocopy) 25 hard copies of the document.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

The purchase price and handling fee are the same for both soft and hard copies. Soft copies do not entail a shipping fee.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, then you should order a single Teacher’s Package for that role simulation. A PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package is also available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. There is no need to order participant materials as well as a Teacher’s Package, as all Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters. Please note that the materials in Teacher’s Packages are for the instructor’s review and reference only, and may not be duplicated for use with participants.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

If you wish to order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Participant Copies.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required; the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Participant Copies.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.