Panel Discussion: Justice and Negotiation

The Hague Institute and the Clingendael PIN Program welcomed two renowned experts on conflict studies. Dr. William Zartman and Dr. Cecilia Albin discussed the notion of justice as an important element of conflict negotiation processes.

In the past months we have seen important negotiations end in gridlock or extremely ambiguous and weak agreements, bound to be broken sooner or later. Examples include: Hamas-Israel, Ukraine-Separatists-Russia-the EU-the US, Assad regime-Syrian National Coalition.

The reasons for failure are numerous and each case has its own characteristics, but a disturbing undercurrent seems to be that the parties rely on completely different perceptions of what is just. The troubling side of this development demonstrates how different concepts of justice can be difficult to overcome during the negotiations since they are often directly linked to fundamental identity issues.

The above are examples of hefty life and death situations, but perceptions of justice also impede on more normal diplomatic negotiation processes, ranging from climate change, to non-proliferation and trade. It leads to negotiations which are no longer about the exchange of interests, but a discussion of entitlements and demands of writing the wrong, while that wrong is not even recognized by the other party. Issues of sustainability might be overcome if the negotiations take place in a well- functioning regime with an agreed rule-set. Unfortunately, pressures on such regimes are rising.

This event was in partnership with the Clingendael PIN Program.


Dr. I. William Zartman
Senior Visiting Fellow at Clingendael, Member of the Steering Committee of the Clingendael Processes of International Negotiation (PIN) Program, and the Jacob Blaustein Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Cecilia Albin
Senior Visiting Fellow at Clingendael, Member of the Steering Committee of the Clingendael Processes of International Negotiation (PIN) Program, and Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University

Dr. Abiodun Williams, Moderator
President, The Hague Institute for Global Justice

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