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Explaining Oslo

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image of International Negotiation

Three approaches are rested as explanations of the outcome of the Oslo negotiations. Ripeness theory explains the onset of the Madrid negotiations, which then talked themselves into a mutually hurting stalemate, but it accounts only for the beginning of Oslo, not its outcome. Process analysis shows neither a formula-detail nor a concession-convergence process but a hybrid constructed substantive process with two turning points of toughness, alongside a two-phased procedural process created by the need to officialize the proceedings. This approach explains rather well the nature of the constructed outcome. Contending theories of mediation bring out the importance of seeking a settlement rather than a resolution, of turning track two into track one diplomacy, and of using a powerless rather than a muscled mediator. But they also show how the type of outcome reached at Oslo prepared its own undoing when brought back home.

Affiliations: 1: The Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC 20036, USA


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