This article from the Harvard Program on Negotiation Daily Blog demonstrates “how conflict management skills used by negotiators can help during crises negotiations.”  The article explores difficulties internationally from a historical perspective in Ireland, the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, and Sri Lanka. 

“In each of these cases, extremists stalled negotiations by creating security crises that divided public opinion and drove negotiators apart.

What can be done to insulate ongoing peace negotiations from the terror attacks and other security crises they trigger?

In his book Negotiating Under Fire: Preserving Peace Talks in the Face of Terror Attacks (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt analyzes three violent interruptions of the Oslo negotiations for Middle East peace and offers a number of strategies that the leaders of future peace talks could employ to ward off the ill effects of security crises.”

He suggests three broad strategies:

1.       “Engage in pre-negotiations

2.       Keep the process moving

3.       Vest leaders in the negotiations”

Attending the Carter Center weekend June 22-26, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland with Jimmy Carter I was struck by the hour and half opening commentary by former President Jimmy Carter on the Middle East. He had no notes and yet spoke with great detail for an hour and a half about the Syrian conflict.  Several of my own takeaways relating to this article were:

·         The Carter Center is in conversation with the leaders in Syria, Russia, USA, China, Iran and Iraq.  President Carter within the previous three days had interactions with Secretary of State Kerry, President Assad and Prime Minister Putin. 

·         The U.S. government does not interact with President Assad and has indicated for the last five years that President Assad has to go.  When the President Barak Obama indicated that one of the conditions for peace was for President Assad to go, President Jimmy Carter contacted President Obama and indicated he thought this was a mistake.  President Assad is not about to step down, be tried for war crimes and be killed.   President Jimmy Carter indicated that President Assad is a very stubborn man, and very much interested in self-preservation.    

·         The Carter Center is daily keeping track of the 7,000 factions associated with the Syrian crises.  All believe they have the moral high ground.  The west is down to about 100 key separate groups.  The Syrians are fragmenting due to a shortage of manpower with Generals focusing on ancestral links over national interests.  It makes for complex negotiations. 

I can’t imagine. 

I am a mediator with a small “m”. I address issues business to business, business to government (IRS) and within businesses (shareholder disputes, board of directors and within businesses).   These conflicts involve limited parties.  The Carter Center is involved with Mediations with a big “M”. 

President Carter shared with us that Primer Minister Putin is recommending that if the world will not accept the Russian Peace Plan, then the Carter Peace Plan is recommended.  What is it?

·         President Assad becomes a king with no real authority similar to the Queen of England,

·         Free elections take place within 18 months of the ceasing of hostilities.

This sounds simple enough, but with 7,000 factions, I cannot imagine the complexities involved. So what is the Carter Center doing?

·         Mapping the locations of all of the factions daily based on tweets and videos supplied by the various factions,

·         Engaging in pre-negotiations with all of the factions,

·         Keeping the process moving,

·         Vesting all of the leaders in the process.

·         Looking at the US President Carter believes that Secretary of State Kerry is still very much engaged, but President Obama is not.

·         I also find the Carter Center mission of “Promote Peace, Fight Disease and Provide Hope” very much in play as the issue unfolds.  The Carter Center paper on “Daesh” (ISIL or ISIS) presents a framework for addressing this threat and terrorism.

Taking this example and applying the concepts presented here to a business environment where the negotiations may be in crises suggests the three points being made in this article are on point.  The world is complex.   Complex situations require out of the box thinking.  Working with those that are able to think outside of the box using this format can offer serious benefits to the parties involved.

Mike is a manager with over 25 years’ experience at all levels of management.  He also worked at the IRS for 28 years.  Mike provides services related to conflict resolution (business to business, business to government within businesses), and value added services (business valuation reviews, research credit advice, transfer pricing assistance, strategic planning and leadership development) to help clients and boards of directors on a wide variety of issues.  When not serving clients as a consultant or blogging, Mike is an avid writer, speaker and educator.  When not working Mike enjoys family, church, volunteering, and daily yoga, meditation and exercise.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]