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The Lessons of Oslo

-- Facilitation and Peacemaking Rules from a different perspective, Rules and Process Cues -- Prenegotiation Negotiations.

I recently had the chance to read Getting to the Table in Oslo: Driving Forces and Channel Factors.  14 Negotiation Journal 115 (April 1998).  From that article and some earlier readings (such as Conflict Resolution by John W. Burton, etc.) I have derived my own "rules" for facilitation and some process cues.

These rules are especially applicable to "prenegotation negotiations" or "secret process" negotiations where the parties are meeting in order to agree to meet, yet may be able to cover and create significant accords.  The process cues are observations of values and strengths of this particular process.

Rules for Facilitation

  1. Protracted conflicts that have degenerated into stalemates are better targets for dispute resolution than early conflicts where parties have begun to make serious efforts to "win" by force.
  2. Neutrals with a history of significant charitable involvement and without strategic interests are significant and important channel facilitators.
  3. There is a different way at looking at and for interest groups necessary for a peace initiative.  Look for:
  4. Facilitators rather than mediators -- servants rather than masters.

Process Cues from Oslo

  1. The value of Secret Diplomacy
  2. The Value of Mutual Testing
  3. The Value of Staged Agreement

This is obviously just my conclusions. However, Oslo provides a good example of a successful project that had its own real world dynamic and implications. No matter how brilliant the theory or how comprehensive the rules, without reality testing and dynamics they are no more sensible than Aristotle's physics. Oslo takes us into reality, both for its successes as well as for its failures.

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Copyright 1998 Stephen R. Marsh [home]

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