The Hurting Way Out: Group Cohesion and the Mitigating Potential of Private Actors in Conflict Negotiation

Originally published in December 2016screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-12-38-18

According to William Zartman the elements necessary for a ripe moment are a Way Out and a Mutually Hurting Stalemate. This paper further develops ripeness theory by taking a closer look at these two conditions of ripeness. It finds that the two necessary elements of ripeness – Way Out and Mutually Hurting Stalemate – constrain each other. If there is a generous offer for a Way Out, the Mutually Hurting Stalemate will not be reached by all factions of a conflict party simultaneously. If the Way Out is not very far-reaching, it is more likely that a Mutually Hurting Stalemate is commonly perceived by all factions.

In order to determine what can be done to exit this intricate relationship between Way Out and Mutually Hurting Stalemate and to bring a ripe moment about, this paper looks at the role that states and private actors can play in enhancing the negotiation willingness of non-state armed groups. The peace efforts by Ehud Olmert and the Carter Initiative in 2008, and the Road Map and the Geneva Initiative in 2003 serve as an illustration that private actors can play a key role in bringing ripeness about.

Influencing Negotiation Willingness in the Middle East: The Potential Contributions of Private Actors

Originally published in May 2016negotiation_journal_dis_2016

Specifically, we examine two pairs of efforts to resolve the conflict in Israel and Palestine: the “Road Map” and the track two Geneva Initiative of 2003, and the Olmert Peace Plan and Jimmy Carter’s visit to the Middle East in 2008. In the first pair, NGO efforts yielded unexpected results. The Palestinians were ready to compromise even though the deal offered by the Israelis did not seem very generous. In the second pair, the reaction of the Palestinians to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s generous peace offer seemed especially puzzling, illustrating, the internal dynamics between the Palestinian factions. Negotiation willingness was closely related to cohesion, and that cohesion plays an important role in conflict negotiations. President Jimmy Carter’s efforts in 2008 to enhance cohesion among the Palestinians illustrated the potential that NGOs have to complement official negotiations.

Engaging Armed Actors in Conflict Mediation. Consolidating Government and Non-government Approaches

Originally published in March 2016screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-12-32-18

To reduce the humanitarian consequences of conflict for civilian populations, specifically, NGOs and private actors involved in conflict mediation/resolution employ one of three general approaches: some pursue the more immediate approach of facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance in territory controlled by NSAGs; some promote international norms concerning the protection of civilians and combatants, with the goal of persuading NSAGs to change their behaviour; others seek the resolution of the conflict through dialogue, mediation, mediation support and negotiation.

In practice, states, international organizations, and specialized NGOs and private actors conduct their approaches in the same locations at the same time. To avoid duplication of effort, instrumentalization and unintended consequences, actors need to improve communication, coordination, collaboration and cooperation. This could additionally alleviate existing trust issues between states and NGOs.

Moreover, a consolidation of the approaches of states and international organizations with those of NGOs and private actors, and an appropriate mix and timing of strategies, may provide a more effective means of consistently engaging NSAGs and decreasing violence in contemporary conflict.

NGOs and private actors may supplement and support official policy that is designed to reduce humanitarian impact and foster political agreements, and may provide their specialized knowledge, capacities and access in support of official initiatives and policies.

Specialized NGOs may be capable of balancing shortcomings of state actors and international organizations by assuming responsibility for specific policy components entirely.

Specialized NGOs and private actors may be able to anticipate windows of opportunity for specific engagement in conflict that has the potential to decrease levels of violence, especially against civilian populations. Their practical experiences and first action on the ground may develop such opportunities for official initiatives.

External actors need to take into account the entire range of approaches and protagonists that exist and that may contribute, in a coordinated manner, to achieving specific goals and lasting solutions regarding NSAGs. The capacity for these approaches may differ considerably between specialized organizations and other humanitarian actors active in conflict areas.

NGOs as norm dealers: Norm-Diffusion in Conflict Management using the example of the ICRC

Originally published in October 2015kas_78555-1609-2-30_90

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the dynamics and the results of the norm diffusion practices occurring between the ICRC and non-state arms carriers in environments of conflict and fragile statehood. The paper aims to conceptually describe the methods used by the ICRC and to provide an answer regarding the difficulties and chances of success arising out of these interactions. The paper addresses the ICRC’s approach for integration and infers its factors for success. These factors are based on well-known socialisation research hypotheses, which are then put to the test in the field. The conclusions point to the ICRC’s image as a norms diffuser and highlight the potentials of its activities. Successful norm diffusion can, on the one hand, contribute to increasing the security of civilian populations in conflict areas by persuading non-state arms carriers to abstain from specific violent practices, such as for instance the use of land-mines and child-soldiers. On the other hand, successful norm diffusion may also provide the opportunity for compliance with other aspects of HR and open the door to a broader transformation of non-state arms carriers.

The Power of Persuasion. The Role of INGOs in Engaging Armed Groups

Originally published in August 20159781107499560

The number of armed conflicts featuring extreme violence against the civilian population in areas with no or little State authority has risen significantly since the early 1990s. This phenomenon has been particularly prevalent in the African Great Lakes Region. This collection of essays evaluates, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the various traditional and alternative instruments for inducing compliance with international humanitarian law. In particular, it explores the potential of persuasion, as well as hierarchical means such as criminal justice on the international and domestic level or quasi-judicial mechanisms by armed groups. Furthermore, it evaluates the role and potential of human rights bodies, peacekeeping missions and the UN Security Council’s special compliance system for children and armed conflicts. It also considers how Common Article 1 to the Geneva Conventions and the law of State responsibility could both potentially increase compliance with international humanitarian law.

  • Takes an interdisciplinary approach to inducing compliance with international humanitarian law
  • Considers all major mechanisms to induce compliance, so that readers can systematically compare them
  • Evaluates alternative forms of inducing compliance, in particular the implementation of the law by non-state actors

The Dark Side of Recognition. Mutual Exclusiveness of Passive and Active Recognition in the Middle East Conflict

Originally published in May 201517250932

Proponents of the declaratory and the constitutive theory of recognition differ in their understanding of what comes first: statehood or recognition. While according to the declaratory theory, states are created because they fulfill certain criteria of statehood and hence should be recognized, according to the constitutive theory, recognition calls states into being: “Does one state’s formal recognition of another state simply declare a state of affairs that is legally significant because objective conditions for the constitution of some entity as a state have already been met? Or does the act of recognition by itself constitute the state as a state in law and thus a state in relation to other states? An affirmative answer to either question implies a negative answer to the other.” (Onuf, 2013: 122)

The question underlying the dispute between declaratory and constitutive theory can be seen in a more general light: “[I]s recognition a response to something that already exists, or does it bring something new into being?” (Bartelson, 2013: 109). The dispute over Palestinian unity and the divide between Fatah and Hamas can be pinpointed with this question. Arguably, Palestinian unity is essential for Palestinian statehood. However, instead of asking whether recognition or unity comes first, both have to be analyzed in combination. Thus, Nicholas Onuf has argued that the “declaratory-constitutive binary is grossly misleading” (2013: 122). Instead of focusing on this binary, analyzing recognition and the condition for Palestinian statehood – Palestinian unity – in combination can be achieved by differentiating between actively recognizing someone and passively being recognized by someone. While in the Hegelian view recognition has to be mutual, the reciprocity of recognition can be differentiated into passive and active recognition. As the case studies will demonstrate, the conditions for active recognition by the Palestinians are different from the conditions for their passive recognition by Israel.

Is arming opposition groups really the answer?

Originally published in October 2014Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 12.15.19.png

We have seen the consequences of such policy in recent conflicts in the Middle East in particular. For instance, in Syria, the power vacuum left behind by the exile opposition and the protracted nature of the struggle has produced a large number of resistance groups in the country that operate under no effective leadership. Some of these groups are armed, others remain as a civilian opposition to the Assad regime.

Today, the armed opposition groups, nominally under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), pose a legitimate challenge to the civilian opposition under the leadership of the Syrian National Council (SNC). The dependency of the population on the armed groups to provide security and the uncertain and changing motivations of these groups undermine the efforts of the SNC to establish itself as a viable civilian leader in the country.

Similarly, Libya after Gaddafi struggles with a large number of armed groups who control parts of the country as well as the resources in those parts, and challenge the new government’s legitimacy with their varying agendas and allegiances.