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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

No Legitimate Party to Negotiate With

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Another problem that can prevent negotiation is that there may not be anyone to negotiate with.  This occurs for several reasons.  First, the opponent may not want to negotiate.  They may think that they have a way of prevailing in the conflict without having to negotiate with the other side.  If they think they can win by force or by persuasion, without having to give much up, they are unlikely to be willing to negotiate an end to the conflict.

Another cause is when the opponent is so diverse that no one person can legitimately or accurately act as a spokesperson or representative of the opposing group.  In this case, if negotiations take place, whatever is decided is likely to be rejected or ignored by all the people who feel that they were not represented adequately in the negotiations. 

A related problem occurs when there is a legitimate spokesperson chosen by the opposing group, but that person is not considered legitimate by the other side.  (For example, for many years Israel did not accept the legitimacy of the PLO as the spokesmen for the Palestinians.)  In this case, negotiations may not be able to occur at all, or the may take place with a spokesperson who is considered illegitimate by one side.  This makes success much less likely, if not impossible.


Links to Examples of This Problem:

Louis Kriesberg -- Factors Prompting De-escalation in the Middle East
This article discusses some of the problems with defining who represents the Palestinians in the Middle East.

Links to Possible Solutions:

Identifying Ripe Times for Negotiation

Negotiate with Legitimate Representatives


Links to Related Problems:

Refusal to Negotiate

Wrong (or Missing) Parties at the Table

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