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School of Government & International Affairs

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'Negotiation and the Legitimacy Issue: Concepts and Policies 'The Annual Conference of Processes of International Negotiation

8th October 2010, 09:00 to 17:00, Durham University

The official line is that public authorities do not negotiate with terrorists. However, governments frequently do end up negotiating with hostage talkers and kidnappers and with political groups classified as terrorists. But this introduces a whole set of questions about legitimacy.

One of the arguments against such negotiations is that it confers legitimacy on any armed non-state actors involved in the negotiations and their violent tactics. But if the actors in question already enjoy legitimacy among certain constituencies, or if the government in question lacks legitimacy amongst those constituencies, how are the dynamics of this process affected? Conversely, those designated 'terrorist' are often wary of negotiations because they either regard the government or the negotiating process itself as illegitimate. An additional problem is the question of how to legitimise the outcome of any negotiations among the various constituencies involved (including the hardliners and the wider population on both sides of the conflict) - and how to ensure that compromises agreed at the negotiations are implemented (lack of trust in which often being a reason why parties on either side of the conflict refuse to enter into negotiations).

The speakers, who are mostly members of the prestigious Processes of International Negotiation Network, will look at the issue of legitimacy in asymmetric negotiations from numerous angles and offer invaluable insights for both those in positions of authority who have to decide how, when, and with whom to negotiate and those interested in the study of the interplay between legitimacy and negotiations.


G. Sjoestedt (SIIA): NGOs & Peace Processes
I.W. Zartman (Johns Hopkins): Engaging extremists

R. Schuessler (Bayreuth): Asymmetric conflicts and moral symmetry

P. Meerts (Bruges): Negotiating European Union

A. Macaspac (IIASA): Legitimizing agreements from biased meditation

O. Ramsbotham (Bradford): Managing radical disagreement in asymmetric negotiation

M. Trotskiy (MAF, Moscow): Negotiating with 'equals'

M. Melamud (CTBTO): Asymmetries in inspection negotiations

S. Haspeslach/A. Ramsbotham (Accord): Engaging armed groups/Cross-border dynamics

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