by Ruth Murambadoro, Zimbabwe

Week four of the Hague Symposium mark the crux of the 30days in Den Haag. Monday’s short-course on negotiation came to the test in yesterday’s activities as participants had to constantly remind themselves of the role they are playing. Negotiation has been defined as an instrument of diplomacy which facilitates the process of  communication between international actors to deliberate on interests/issue with the intent of reaching a common ground. Great emphases was brought forward with regards to the do’s and don’ts in a negotiation procedure. Among these are:

  • Be aware of mode swings in the negotiation process, at times people might be fighting different fights in one room. By singling out the issues you scale down the complexity of the matters at hand. In our simulation group this came up a lot, we had to address the issue of security separate from the rule of law. The majority of the group conceded that it is paramount for the case example state of Kayranistan to stabilize its military forces henceforth the ICC indictment against one of the stakeholders will impede on the progress of the negotiation.
  • Single-mindedness can make other people look arrogant and stubborn. Very tough to negotiate with someone who wants things to go their way always. The best way to reach a compromise would be to take them aside and inform them of the things at stake. More so advise them on options that will  be most beneficial to their stance. At times people are arrogant because they are not aware of the alternatives. However this procedure must be handled  with care, avoid standing out as it might seem like you are discrediting the interests of the other parties. Within the simulations there are some stakeholders who played arrogant, they articulated a carrot and stick strategy to strengthen their stances. It was crucial for participants to block any opportunity of the spoilers from achieving their goals.
  • Time-out helps to ease emotions and allows for re-thinking. There are moments when the deliberations were getting heated up and everyone was disagreeing about everything else that the other one is agreeing to act on. In order to regain control of the debate some stakeholders had to adjourn on an issue to debrief with their partners on the way forward. When they reconvened the crux of the debate became more soluble.

My greatest lessen of yesterday was the practically of a negotiation. It is indeed a give and take, one has to be careful of the implications of any stance before adopting it. More over there is need to make time to reflect on what happens and why. Sometimes ambivalence is necessary to reach a consensus. With that in mind it is interesting to note that social relations made outside the class set up will be distorted with the simulations of this week as some people have been assigned roles which sets them as enemies of their usual friends. Henceforth this week is very interesting, mind blowing, and yet confusing because of the challenges one has to go through to uphold the role they have at the expense of personal preferences.