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The Philosophy and Methodology of Ambassador Dennis Ross as an International Mediator

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image of International Negotiation

This article explores the mediation efforts of Ambassador Dennis Ross, who served for a decade as a key facilitator in the delicate and difficult peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The salient elements of Ross's mediation techniques, as applied in a variety of situations, are described and assessed in this case study. Ross's techniques are divided into nine categories: empathizing, building trust, creating movement, disaggregating issues and symbols, generating creative options, using deadlines effectively, equalizing a power imbalance, establishing confidentiality, and being a fair broker. Ross's uses of these methods provide valuable insights into the conduct of high-stakes intervention in complex international disputes. Both the requisites and limits of such international intervention are explored, and Ross's approach is compared with those advocated by scholars in the field. Finally, the article examines why the American effort failed to capitalize upon a series of interim agreements to achieve a final settlement. While Ross is a self-described intuitive mediator, his methods merit careful study, as most are of general utility and application.

Affiliations: 1: 6321 Lenox Road, Bethesda, MD 20817, USA


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