How can we convince a counterpart that concessions we view to be essential—whether on financial, moral, or other grounds—will result in a successful international conflict resolution?
Attempts at international conflict resolution are often hindered by disputants complaining about minor losses while overlooking their larger gains. But former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, advises against making such value judgments.
Because seemingly petty issues typically are symbols of larger, critical issues, they deserve full attention. Unfortunately, there is a persistent fear that our negotiation counterparts will take advantage of any concessions and compromise we make. As a result, many negotiators refuse to make any at all, and many international conflict resolution talks end up stalled.
To further complicate matters, cultural and language barriers may play into talks. To overcome these obstacles, international conflict resolution is best viewed as a journey rather than an event.
To begin deescalating a conflict, choose negotiators with care. Never underestimate the importance of individuals who can set a tone of empathy without conceding negotiation points. Furthermore, keep sensitive negotiations as private as possible, and replace loaded words and terms with more benign language.
And don’t overlook the single most important aspect of international conflict resolution: building trust.
If your counterpart is new to you, or if a past attempt at international conflict resolution hasn’t gone their way, you can’t expect them to trust your motives. Give the other side space to air their concerns and past grievances, and apologize and make amends for any actions of yours that created mistrust.
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The following items are tagged international conflict resolution:
In his memoir, the former world leader highlights lessons from the peace process in Northern Ireland. One of the world’s most famous negotiators, Tony Blair, offers 10 principles to guide diplomats in international conflict resolution.
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The late Nelson Mandela will certainly be remembered as one of the best negotiators in history. He was clearly “the greatest negotiator of the twentieth century,” wrote Harvard Law School professor and Program on Negotiation Chairman Robert H. Mnookin in his seminal book, Bargaining with the Devil, When to Negotiate, When to Fight.
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Check out this freely available video of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his Peace Advisory Team as they discuss lessons learned from the Colombian peace process negotiations with the FARC guerrillas.
The civil war in Colombia lasted 52 years, taking the lives of at least 220,000 people and displacing up to seven million civilians. In … Read Advice for Peace: Ending Civil War in Colombia
Sometimes disputes are left to fester for years, even decades, until parties decide there is something to be gained from reaching agreement. In 2015, the nations of Bangladesh and India seized on an opportunity to push the “restart” button on a contentious border disagreement through dispute resolution. Such international conflict resolution examples can illustrate how … Read More
With the spread of a global pandemic, climate crisis, and the war on terror, resolving international conflicts has become increasingly complex. Training to address these difficult global conflicts must also reflect the modern issues and dynamics that face the international community. The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) has several new international negotiation simulations that reflect … Read More
When it comes to conflict resolution, surprisingly useful nuggets of advice come from the realm of international conflict. Take the Camp David Accords of 1978, as described minute-by-minute by Lawrence Wright in his new book, Thirteen Days in September. U.S. President Jimmy Carter made history by negotiating a peaceful end to the conflict between Israel … Read More
The brutal conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh has resurfaced in recent weeks, bringing devastation to many communities in the region.
Nagorno-Karabakh, located in the Caucasus Mountains, is internationally recognized to be part of Azerbaijan, but is politically controlled by an Armenian ethnic majority. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over … Read More
As a collaboration between UST School of Law and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, the following is the transcript of a conversation between the creator of the multi-door courthouse, Harvard Law Professor Frank E.A. Sander, and the executive director and founder of the University of St. Thomas (UST) International ADR [Alternative Dispute … Read What is the Multi-Door Courthouse Concept
What lessons can we learn from conflict resolution examples in history? The world of nuclear nonproliferation can be a valuable place to start, as few negotiations throughout history have had higher stakes. Conducted amid international conflicts and public scrutiny, complicated by language and cultural barriers, and carried out under tight deadlines, talks aimed at ensuring … Read More
Business negotiators coping with deeply entrenched conflict often feel defeated and hopeless when conflict-solving strategies fail. However, research from the world of international conflict suggests that taking repeated breaks from conflict can improve the odds of reaching agreement down the road. The research and resulting negotiation strategies may offer new hope to business negotiators.
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About the PON Summer Fellowship Program:
PON offers fellowship grants to students at Harvard University, MIT, Tufts University and other Boston-area schools who are doing internships or undertaking summer research projects in negotiation and dispute resolution in partnership with public, non-profit or academic organizations. The Summer Fellowship Program’s emphasis is on advancing the links between … Read Announcing the 2010 PON Summer Fellows
“The Role of Track I actors in Reconciliation: The UN in Iraq”
Date: December 8, 2009
Time: 4-6 PM
Where: CGIS Building, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs,
1737 Cambridge Street, Second Floor, N-262 (Bowie Vernon Room), Cambridge MA
Contact Chair: Donna Hicks (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Eileen F. Babbitt is Professor of International Conflict Management Practice and Director of the International Negotiation … Read More