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Unofficial Interventions with Official Actors: Parallel Negotiation Training in Violent Intrastate Conflicts

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The article compares the author's experience providing parallel negotiation training to the negotiating teams of the conflicting parties in El Salvador and South Africa as a pre-negotiation tool in its own right, rather than as a prelude to later joint dialogue sessions. Several general conclusions are posited about the key elements and challenges of parallel training used as an intervention tool, including the unusual role played by the trainer in this context as an partisan advisor-trainer, and the difficulties of building the parties' trust. Based on the experience in El Salvador and South Africa, the author proposes several ways in which parallel negotiation training contributes to a successful negotiation: (1) by helping the parties to deal with obstacles to negotiation, such as how the parties define or ``frame'' the conflict and how they view negotiations as a win-lose process; (2) by helping to build the parties' confidence and a sense of empowerment; and (3) by helping to improve the design, structure and implementation of the negotiation process itself.

Affiliations: 1: Regional Director, Conflict Management Group, 20 University Road, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA


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