Negotiations for Durable Peace: Madhavi
The paper attempts to look at the role of negotiations
in ensuring peace. The durability of any peace process depends
on the how the peace accord is made. Through the NAN (Negotiation
About Negotiation) Approach an attempt is made to analyze
the process of peace making rather than peace implementation.
The NAN Approach clearly focuses on the role on the civil
society in creating a convergence of demands before actual
negotiations can take off. This is expected to be an improvement
upon the cosmetic measures designed to involve the people
in the conflict resolution process.
The views of prominent theorists like R. Fisher, J. Burton
and H. Kelman on the negotiation process are combined with
Edward E. Azar’s analysis of protracted social conflicts
to evolve a theoretical framework for managing the highly
critical pre-negotiation dynamics. During the negotiations
political leadership prepares the overall framework and inputs
are sought from the local level. In NAN strategy the framework
is fashioned at the local level within which macro-level actors
would operate. The basic rationale of the paper is that managing
the micro-elements at the pre-negotiation phase can provide
ample room for the macro-elements to structure durable peace
during actual negotiations.
A common theme of international discourse in contemporary
times is conflict resolution and peace building. From Kosovo
in Europe to Kashmir in South Asia; from Darfur in Africa
to Arab-Israel in the Middle East; from the ethnic crisis
in Sri Lanka to issues of power sharing between Britain and
Northern Ireland; from humanitarian challenges in Somalia
to international concerns over nuclear proliferation, conflicts,
crisis, political discords, national rivalries dominate international
news. Following Hobbes’s analysis and the realist rationale
the source of this international anarchy can be traced to
the characteristics of human nature. But according to psychological
reasoning if the desire for power is inherent in human nature
so is the craving for peace. International politics adequately
reflects this duality of human nature as the occurrence of
conflicts parallels the desire for peace. From the Dayton
Accords to the Lahore Declaration; from Norwegian mediation
in Sri Lanka to international treaties like CTBT and NPT;
from the Good Friday Accord to the Bonn Agreement every conflict
scenario has witnessed a corresponding peace process. But
for ending conflicts rather than merely managing them it is
imperative to make peace irreversible and durable. Most of
the above stated conflicts and subsequent redressal measures
have resulted in erratic peace. In turning this erratic peace
into an enduring one the present study examines the process
of structuring negotiations.
The paper attempts to make a theoretical contribution to the
process of peace building in North-East India. The region
has a distinct character and no generalized approach can resolve
the prevailing crisis. Nevertheless certain theoretical insights
could help in reviewing the conflictual dynamics of the region.
The North-East has witnessed numerous peace accords, some
of which have been partially successful while some have miserably
failed. These challenges increase the need to explore new
alternatives for bringing peace to the region. One of the
obvious approaches to peace is open discussion and interaction
which can lead to proper negotiations and subsequent peace
proposals. The substantive portion of this paper deals with
the specifics of the negotiation approach. This approach could
be further refined and contextualized to address the challenges
to peace and stability, which unfortunately are too numerous
in this region. This paper in no way presents a peace plan
but merely discusses the essentials of a general peace plan
which can be applied to the region. Since the journey towards
peace traverses through unknown and challenging terrain innovation
and experimentation are unavoidable. It has been widely acknowledged
that conflict resolution requires the engagement of numerous
actors, including those in civil society, to re-knit the fabric
of society at all levels from grassroots to the political
elites. (Ronald Fisher 2006) The present paper seeks to discuss
a mechanism that facilitates this engagement.
There are two discernibly observable phenomenon in conflicts
around the world. One is that the root of every conflict lies
in the desire for greater freedom, autonomy, sovereignty either
by an ethnic group, a regional group or a state. (Daneil Fisher
2005) Second, the mechanism for bringing peace to conflict
situations around the globe is negotiation. Despite the aggression
and violence discussions, deliberations, information exchanges
are central to any peace attempt. It is on these foundations
of real freedom and open discussion that the peace approach
of this paper is based.
In essence, negotiation is a creative activity in which the
parties involved discover information about each other’s
needs and interests and come to common decisions on some issue
or set of issues. (Bruce Hemmer 2006) Negotiation includes
all cases in which two or more parties are communicating,
each for the purpose of influencing the other’s decision.
Nothing seems to be gained by limiting the concept to formal
negotiations taking place at a table, and much to be gained
by defining the subject broadly. (Fisher 1991, quoted in Breslin
and Rubin 1991) Though the concept of negotiation is central
to peace making, the fact remains that peace in the real sense
is still elusive. This makes re-looking at negotiations vital.
A few prerequisites and facts about negotiations need to be
In a successful negotiation, everyone wins. The objective
should be agreement, not victory. This mantra stands
in opposition to the common tactics employed during negotiations
in contemporary times. Any negotiation which aims to defeat
the other party would not result in durable peace. The desire
to negotiate implies the willingness to agree in contrast
to the desire to win as exemplified in conflict situations.
Without common interests there is nothing to negotiate
for; without conflict there is nothing to negotiate about.
This implies that in every negotiation situation common interests
and conflict are inevitably interlinked. The need for negotiations
arises from the existence of conflicts, while the hope in
negotiations is sustained by possibility of discovering common
interests. Rather than the issue divergence it is the anger,
frustration, resentment, mistrust, hostility, and a sense
of futility that complicate the negotiation process.
should focus on interests not positions. The purpose
of negotiations is to achieve particular interests and satisfy
specific demands. Minor compromises and concessions can help
achieve desirable results and hence innovative solutions should
not be scarified at the altar of sacrosanct positions. The
Negotiation Approach discussed in this paper focuses attention
on the process of interaction rather than on the content of
the negotiated positions.
A critical element in negotiation is to come to understanding
the other party's underlying interests and needs. Negotiations
imply interactions between two or more parties. For interactions
to be fruitful it is necessary that each side acknowledges
the needs and interests of the other side. Without such acknowledgement
no discussion can take place and interactions become mere
Negotiation is a sequence of events, not an incident.
Negotiations can succeed only when continuity and diligence
of dialogue is maintained. Once negotiations are
initiated every event, including disruption of dialogue, forms
a part of the on-going process of negotiated interaction.
Incorporating lessons from failed negotiations not only link
one stage of negotiations to the other but also provide a
self corrective mechanism. Negotiations need to be approached
as an exercise in ‘image-restoration’ (Raymond
Friedman 1994) by all parties which requires consistent innovative
Negotiations should focus on resolving not merely
managing conflict. Negotiations can lead to disastrous
results if approached as temporary time buying tactics. Sustained
and comprehensive negotiations are vital for understanding,
discussing and addressing the root causes of any conflict
so as to resolve it rather than merely regulate crisis.
If the above discussed essentials are followed a genuine negotiating
mechanism can emerge. The general principles of negotiations
need to be contextualized for resolving contemporary conflicts.
Given the fact that modern day conflicts are usually ethnic,
religious or regional in origin certain additional concerns
figure in ensuring successful negotiations. These issues have
been discussed in greater details in the book by R. Fisher
and W. Ury. (Fisher and Ury 1983)
people from problems. The structural features of
any conflict need to be viewed as distinct from its human
components. Although an organic partition of the two is difficult
a minimal degree of separation can be managed and is desirable.
on people and hard on the problem. In an attempt
to address a crisis most of the current peace accords follow
rigid and unyielding measures, the implementation of which
creates hardships for the common people. The resolution mechanisms
worked during negotiations have to target the problems rather
than those facing the problem.
bargaining to replace distributive bargaining. (Heidi
Burgess 2004) Most negotiations fall-out on the issue of diving
the pie or the pay-off. Since resources are usually scarce
optimal utilization warrants creating greater stakes in sharing
the pay-off rather than dividing it.
How you approach a negotiation will play a key role
in how the negotiation proceeds. The foundation determines
the character of the super-structure. Likewise the intentions
and ground work leading to actual negotiations would determine
the nature of peace. Pre-negotiation stage is critical in
terms of determining the actual content of negotiations and
subsequent peace plans.
– Meaning and Rationale
Having established the centrality of negotiations in building
peace and having reviewed the essentials of a proper negotiation
approach it is vital to work out a viable negotiation mechanism
to address various conflicts. The present paper attempts to
focus on a critical dimension of negotiations in evolving
a theoretical approach for structuring peace. The approach
is called the Negotiation About Negotiations Approach –
NAN (John Burton 1990). There are several prominent theorists
like R. Fisher (1983, 1989), J. Burton (1986), E. Azar (1990)
and Galtung (1996) who have referred to different aspects
of the negotiation process. Based on the writings of these
theorists, the conflictual dynamics in various crises and
Edward E. Azar’s study (E. Azar 1990) on protracted
social conflicts, this paper discusses the NAN approach to
For the purpose of conceptual clarity it is important to note
that NAN is not negotiation about the problem, but emphasizes
on the pre-negotiation dynamics. It is an exercise in suggesting
on how to approach the problem rather than outlining the final
resolution of the problem. The NAN Approach concentrates on
the immediate environmental variables so that actual negotiations
can be initiated from a point of convergence. The bargaining
space in terms of participants and issues is delimited during
the NAN phase. The overt politicization of conflict situations
and peace processes has diminished prospects of any positive
outcome. NAN allows to shift the focus of attention from the
macro political determinants to the micro human demands. In
doing so NAN leans heavily on the support and involvement
of Track Two elements in the negotiating process.
The nature of contemporary conflicts and its complexicity
vindicates the need for a NAN approach. It is an innovation
necessitated by circumstances. Most of the conflicts have
got frozen in a historical space; NAN helps the respective
positions and demands to reconnect to reality. In conflicts
where combatants and victims of war are largely civilians,
citizen-based peace processes are crucial to healing the deep
wounds of the communities and thus finding lasting solutions.
A study by Paula Garb and Susan Allen Nan (2006) shows how
participants in multiple peace building initiatives systematically
negotiated mutually satisfactory arrangements that progressed
from information sharing to joint strategizing; several organizations
managed to take that cooperation further to share resources
and cooperate on joint initiatives and projects.
Harold Suanders (2001) contends that peacemaking cannot focus
solely on the negotiation of agreements between representatives,
but must involve changing relationships among societies. Thus
many other activities need to occur prior to, around and after
negotiation in order to secure a lasting and comprehensive
peace, particularly in deep-rooted human conflicts where people
will not negotiate about their identities, historic grievances,
dignity and so on.
The basic idea of NAN is to reverse the current strategy.
During the negotiations political leadership prepares the
overall framework and inputs are sought from the local level.
In NAN strategy the framework is fashioned at the local level
within which macro-level actors would operate. The greatest
potential for preparing societies for peace comes from the
grassroots. Peace cannot be imposed but rather must grow from
the bottom up. NAN as a bottom up approach aims at four objectives
in devolving a peace approach.
• To evolve the underlying consensus in the multiplicity
• This consensus on the political, economic, strategic,
ethnic and religious issues would then emerge as a charter
• The Charter is presented to the political leadership
at different levels.
• Political level consultations have to take cognizance
of this charter of demands.
Guidelines for NAN
After having re-looked at negotiations and established the
importance of pre-negotiation stage in determining the durability
of the peace process the following guidelines would help in
giving practical shape to the NAN Approach.
Hegemonic dialogue is to be replaced with a multilogue: In a hegemonic dialogue the structure and substance of negotiations
is pre-determined and rigid. The dialogue process is opened
to the various parties having a stake in the resolution of
the conflict. An inclusive dialogue process acknowledges plurality,
transparency and flexibility and ensures the sustainability
of the peace plan.
in Character: The inclusivity of the dialogue tends
to de-politicize the process making it an open interaction
involving representatives from different regions, ethnic communities,
separatist groups, state and national political parties, members
of the local police force and armed forces and international
actors. Such interactions can be chaired by a recognized neutral
international forum or civil society group at the national
or international level. Wider participation expected due to
the non-political character of the interaction. For too long
has the desire for peace been hostage to the lack of political
will. A wide range of intermediaries like a diverse collection
of non-governmental organizations working in the humanitarian,
development and religious domains are already engaged in the
process of facilitating negotiations. The NAN Approach seeks
to increase their involvement at the stage of structuring
negotiations rather than merely assisting in implementing
Unit of Analysis is the Group: Demands of
the regional, religious, ethnic and cultural collectivities
should be discussed at the NAN stage. Group is not to be viewed
as a competitor to the state. Attempts are made to discuss
the insecurities and apprehensions of the group rather than
labeling them as illegitimate demands. Identity politics is
central to any ethnic conflict and if the other party attempts
to overlook this fact the latter are commitment to negotiated
settlement may dwindle.
Concentrate on the enduring features of the Conflict:
Most conflict studies are based on the analysis of immediate
events of violence and ceasefire. The real roots of the conflict
are contained elsewhere in the unintegrated social and political
systems, economic deprivation, technological underdevelopment,
communal insecurities. NAN approach focuses on the events
of violence as merely the symptoms rather than the causes
of the malady.
Emphasis on micro-level actors and their demands: Simple issues of peace and development affect the people in
conflict situations the most. Highly political and technical
issues of resource sharing, autonomy etc are rarely the immediate
concerns of the real conflict bearers. Socio-economic concerns
like minority groups and their demands of organized safeguards,
issues of child and women development, youth empowerment and
constructive employment emerge as more critical demands. Over-emphasis
on the macro-level factors has led to politicization of the
problem turning a dispute center into land of empty promises.
Convergence on the issue of denial of human needs: The NAN strategy is not to seek compromises from one set of
concerns over others, but to find convergences; every regional,
ethnic, religious and cultural concern needs to be respected,
Deprivation of group rights need to be viewed and projected
as denial of human rights. Divergence needs to be tackled
by working on Habermas’s insights on disagreement as
both threat and remedy.
and Real Conflicts
It is interesting to see how NAN performs when applied to
real conflict situations. Though the approach may sound too
ambitious various peace attempts contain certain elements
of the NAN approach. There are numerous examples where either
NAN has been ignored or partially applied to result in fragile
peace. Similarly certain peace attempts owe success largely
to the decisions made during the NAN phase.
The Sudan conflict demonstrates that any consensus on basic
principles makes the road to peace a little smoother. The
Declaration of Principles signed in 1994 between the Sudan
Peoples Liberation Movement and the Government of Sudan helped
in clarifying the claims and plans of each side. Resolution
of the Indo-China boundary dispute according to many is making
no head-way. But the fact is that both countries are working
on an Agreement on the Principles guiding the resolution of
the dispute which characterizes the NAN approach. Rather than
rushing into unworkable agreements, NAN allows concerned parties
to freely interact for arriving at certain agreeable principles.
Most of the features of the Good Friday Agreement are drawn
from the vigorous civil society interactions and the ensuing
reports. The Jan Andolan in Nepal is an example of how convergence
in civil society can ensure rapprochement among the macro
level leadership. The peoples’ uprising in June 2006
forced the Seven Party Alliance and Maoists to come together
and work for a durable political resolution of the internal
crisis. Though the peace process in Nepal is still continuing
NAN has given it a good start. NAN is merely the first stage
in the peace process; it prepares the groundwork for actual
negotiations to take place.
The Innovative Problem Solving Workshop employed in the Peru-Ecuador
(Kaufman and Sosnowski 2005) peace process clearly highlights
the degree to which the civil society can contribute to peace
making. Herbert Kelman (1995) maintained that the 1990-93
continuing workshop helped to lay the foundation for the Oslo
Accord. In US sessions of the of the Secretary’s Open
Forum (State 2002) are held under the auspices of the Department
of State since September 2002 to encourage popular discussion
on various issues in foreign affairs including global peace
building. Dialogue processes have contributed to the official
pre-negotiation efforts, helping to build the legitimacy and/or
support for official negotiations to take place, as in the
dialogues between representatives of the ANC and influential
white South Africans that were organized by the South African
leaders in the period leading up to official negotiations.
NAN is also susceptible to misuse in certain cases to stall
the peace process. The Norwegian mediation in Sri Lanka has
facilitated the NAN phase between Tamil and Sinhala fractions.
But there appears to be a stalemate at the NAN stage. There
is no urgency for charting a peace plan and implementing it
with sincerity. Hence graduating the NAN to the phase of actual
negotiation is imperative.
Another very important area concerning international peace
is the issue of international involvement in crisis situations.
We have the most vivid examples of Bosnia, Afghanistan and
Iraq among others. These regions are still facing several
challenges in terms of establishing durable peace - ethno-religious
co-existence, unsatisfactory power-sharing arrangements, problems
of economic development, stability and security after the
international forces withdraw.
For such situations an International Forum for Durable Conflict
Resolution can be created. The idea of this forum draws inspiration
from John Burton’s Human Needs Model (Burton 1990) and
Conflict Transformation Approach of Folger (Folger 1993) and
Lederach (Lederach 2003). The basic aim of the forum in every
case is to create the ‘humanitarian space’- a
space of freedom in which we are free to evaluate needs, free
to monitor the distribution and use of relief goods, free
to have a dialogue with people. To create such a space the
humanitarian agencies will have to assume pseudo-diplomatic
functions, which would further ensure space for the politico-strategic
variables to operate with least friction. The Forum can comprise
of the following structures.
from agencies like UNHCR, UNOCHA, ICRC, WFP, WHO, MSF, Human
Rights Watch, Amnesty International- will form the permanent
arm of the forum. All areas experiencing or threatened by
any major crisis will be reviewed by the wing and for handling
the politically areas of the crisis the following wings will
be constituted. Depending on the nature and geographical location
of the crisis the constituents of these wings will change.
from the international community, which will include countries
like direct interests and facilitating countries. Personnel
from the humanitarian agencies will also be included to ensure
that the whole process is not solely dominated by political
concerns of some selected countries. Representatives of the
donor agencies and countries can be actively involved in the
discussions of the wing, where their concerns regarding accountability
of the projects can be addressed. The basic task of the wing
will be to work out an ad hoc engagement to restore order
within the concerned country and utilize the resource wealth
of the country in a mutually beneficial manner.
wing will consist of forces drawn from countries willing to
contribute to the peacemaking efforts under an international
command. The peacekeeping role is redefined to provide defensive
cover for humanitarian assistance programmes, apart from observing
the ceasefire. The forum can over a period of time create
an autonomous defense wing comprising of personnel drawn guerilla
and paramilitary forces of areas where conflict resolution
is underway. A special reorientation programme will have to
be designed and followed by the Permanent Wing for suitable
preparing the forces for the required tasks. This would gradually
reduce the dependence on individual states for contributing
to the protection force and will help to stabilize the peace
process by gradually inducting disbanded guerilla and para-military
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Wing:
would include the donor and Humanitarian agencies along with
private companies’ consortium. Reconstruction of public
utilities like roads, schools, hospitals, and water and food
supplies can be given to interested consortium of private
companies, with a revenue sharing agreement with their respective
governments. The priority areas and necessary plans are to
be prepared jointly by these consortiums and humanitarian
agencies. These plans will be submitted to the donor agencies
for seeking necessary financial assistance. Responsibility
for ensuring the completion of the projects will be shared
by all wings of the Forum.
Concerned Party Wing:
country facing a conflict needs to be substantially represented
on the Forum to comprehend the ground situation and communicate
possible solutions. Based on the specificities of the conflict
and available strategies an ad hoc arrangement will be proposed
by the other wings, to which the other parties will have to
respond with their suggestions. Through negotiations and bargaining
a roadmap will be evolved, which will be implemented through
guarantees by each country represented on the forum.
The example of Bosnia-Herzegovina highlights the costs of
neglecting the NAN phase. The Dayton Accord was essential
for stopping the ensuing violence. But Dayton did not, and
some may argue could not, involve an input from the real conflict
bearers. One of the enduring problems of peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina
is to difficulty in getting the Bosnians to face up to their
problems and contribute to the resolutions. Expert analyses
hold that unless solutions grow indigenously out of the political
culture of Bosnia, they are unlikely to be respected by population
the once the international community leaves. People who have
not contributed to the solution can abdicate the responsibility
for its failure. The Dayton Accords have failed in the essential
task of creating a political community that takes responsibility
for resolving its own problems, which is perhaps the most
damming evidence that a peace, with a life and logic of its
own has not been created in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Once Dayton
had established conditions of relative peace the NAN approach
could help to work out possible contours of durable peace.
NAN is necessary not only in particular conflict situations,
but is also vital for the general conduct of international
relations. Negotiations and treaties on issues like non-proliferation
(NPT, CTBT), environmental protection (Kyoto Proposals), economic
interests (WTO negotiations) have failed in achieving the
desired objectives primarily because the NAN phase has been
NAN- A Rational Approach to Durable Peace
The above examples clearly highlight the flexibility and adaptability
of NAN. Essentials of the approach can be applied in several
conflicts ranging from intra-state ethnic differences to inter-state
boundary disputes. NAN even holds promise of emerging as a
more acceptable pre-emptive mechanism to tackle conflicts.
The flexibility of the approach is drawn from the fact that
it is a dialogue promoting approach rather than a rigid problem-solving
While activating the NAN strategy it needs to be reasserted
that this not a solution to actual or potential crisis, but
merely a mechanism to approach the crisis. To turn this mechanism
into a solution generating platform participation of the non-political
elements is essential. At the onset of the paper it was stated
that the desire for greater autonomy or freedom lies at the
root of all conflicts. Autonomy literally means empowerment.
NAN empowers the conflict units by enabling them to the structure
negotiations. Hence NAN guarantees autonomy in the true sense
of the term and thereby addressing the basic cause of every
conflict. And the durability of peace generated by the NAN
approach rests on this fact.
• Acknowledgements: I am highly indebted
to Global India Foundation for giving me an opportunity to
present this paper. Without Prof. Omprakash Mishra’s
guidance and Dr. Tania Dass’s involvement the paper
would not have been possible in its present form. Due acknowledgement
needs to be given to my parents, especially my mother for
helping me to conceptualize and write this paper.
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