Opinion / Mediation Technique

Catalonia and First Principles

As one might have expected, the Catalonia problem is getting problematic. Spain HQ aka Madrid is gearing up to take away Catalonia’s powers in some sort of direct rule power-play. No rebellions allowed! After an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday morning, Rajoy said he was invoking article 155 of the […]

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Catalonia – Your Questions Answered

Baffled by the goings-on in Catalonia? I answer your basic questions. Can Catalonia be an independent country? In principle, why not? It has a population of some 7.5 million people, so as an independent state it would be comfortably in the top half of the world’s country population league rankings […]

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Building Peace in Bosnia

Right. Here is a major contribution by me to the oral history of the modern Balkans, in the form of a discussion with Susan Coleman of The Peace Building Podcast. Susan and I met when we did some training workshops for senior Afghan women in Tajikistan last year. Susan is […]

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Diplomacy, Stupidity, Accuracy

Here I am at Majalla magazine, interviewed by top Arabic journalist Nadia Turki. Thus: What skills do diplomats need to be effective and avoid making embarrassing mistakes? A subtle question. Diplomacy hates taking risks! The ideas of ‘stability’ and ‘predictability’ are right at the heart of the way countries deal with […]

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ZOPA and Win-Win Negotiation

Rummage around in the acronym bran-tub of negotiation theory and you might well pull out ZOPA: the Zone of Possible Agreement. See a visualisation of that idea here. The idea of ZOPA is simple. Alex wants to buy a car. Blex has one to sell: Alex is ready to pay […]

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Tottenham – Berahino and Negotiation

Here’s my first piece for Spurs Web on what the Saido Berahino transfer (or not as it turned out) saga tells us about Negotiation Theory: In international negotiating, Time can be unlimited. Issues drag on for decades if not centuries: Cyprus, Korean peninsula, Russia/Ukraine/Poland/Germany. Brexit? For football transfers Time is […]

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Negotiating with Islamic State

The UK’s Labour leadership between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith contest threw up this interesting exchange. Should involve anyone from so-called Islamic State be involved in Middle East peace negotiations? Yes? Or no? A classic ‘closed question’ that leaves almost no room for waffling. Or so you might think. But look carefully […]

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Hillary Email: Blair and Gaddafi

Thanks to the WSJ, we can search the ever-growing database of Hillary Clinton emails. Here is the one from Feb 2011 where news of Tony Blair’s discussion with Gaddafi is described, as the doomed dictator (Gaddafi, not Blair or Hillary) wriggled to survive. If you have a safe place to […]

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Srebrenica: Russia Veto

Russia has decided once again to line itself up with absurd and offensive positions by vetoing the Srebrenica resolution in the UN Security Council. Here is what looks to be the final text. Most of it is the usual rather convoluted language of UN-speak recalling and noting earlier positions. I […]

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17th Dubrovnik Diplomatic Forum

In case you have been missing me, I have been on the road. First at this year’s Dubrovnik Diplomatic Forum in Croatia. Then back at IAEA (in Vienna) on Leadership Skills. Dubrovnik is of course splendid, if not quite as affordable as it used to be. As for the Forum, the event […]

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