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Diplomatic Negotiation: Essence and Evolution

Meerts, P. (2014). The Hague: The Clingendael Institute. 404 pages.


Diplomatic Negotiation is difficult to grasp, both in practice and in theory. Yet it is important to get to grips with this process, as negotiations between states and in international organizations are the lifeblood of the international body politic. The Charter of the United Nations, for obvious reasons, ranks negotiation as the foremost instrument in the peaceful settlement of inter-state conflicts. Scholars of international relations, however, are still searching for methodologies and theories to explain the outcomes of negotiations by the processes that produce them.This monograph approaches the process of diplomatic negotiation from different angles, while applying a multi-faceted qualitative analysis of case studies from the past and present. It is hoped that a better understanding of negotiation as one of the main tools of diplomacy will help to enhance the effectiveness of this process as an alternative to warfare. Still, negotiation is basically a struggle in the promotion and defence of state interests. It is war by peaceful means.

The central proposition of this book is that negotiations between states can only be a viable replacement of the use of violence if they are conducted within a framework of international regimes that set the rules and procedures for negotiation behaviour and mitigate lack of trust. International regimes may take the shape of international organizations, which can force countries to live up to their agreements. Diplomats and political leaders have come to recognize this, as the evolution of diplomacy in the last 400 years testifies. Diplomatic negotiation may be taken as a ceaseless series of attempts to bring more order to the international system. The current demise of the negotiation processes in the Middle East thus demonstrates the failure of the international community to build overarching negotiation structures.

This monograph was defended and published as a dissertation on 4 November 2014.


  • Chapter I: Introduction and Disquisition 17


  • Chapter II: Aspects of Diplomatic Negotiation 47

  • Chapter III: Process and Context 67

  • Chapter IV: Entrapment in Negotiation 91

  • Chapter V: Negotiation and Warfare 115


  • Chapter VI: The Seventeenth Century: Forward- and Backward-Looking Outcomes 139

  • Chapter VII: The Eighteenth Century: Behaviour of Negotiators 163

  • Chapter VIII: The Nineteenth Century: Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness 183

  • Chapter IX: The Twentieth Century: Reputation and ‘Egotiation’ 217

  • Chapter X: The Twenty-First Century: Structure and Negotiation 243

  • Chapter XI: Simulating Diplomatic Negotiation 271

  • Chapter XII: Summary and Conclusions 307

About the Author

Paul Meerts is Senior Research Associate at the Clingendael Institute. He combines this with his position of Visiting Professor in International Negotiation Analysis at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. He is active in the field of International Negotiations as Member of the Process of International Negotiation (PIN) Steering Committee and Member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of International Negotiation. He is also a Founding Member of the Netherlands Negotiation Network, where he is also a Member of the Steering Committee.