Posted by & filed under COP 17.

So you want to be an international negotiator?  It’s quite easy really, simply a mix of playing on the credulity and greed of others, while masking the minority voice of reality with high sounding rhetoric.

Phase 1: Examine the landscape

1. Identify your negotiating community, and especially who are on your side, and who are not.  So, for example, if you happened to be the United States, you might look to Canada for some support.

2. Identify your antagonists.  In this case they are probably the non-1st world nations.

3. Identify the possible schisms among your negotiating opponents … in particularly try to see if you can group them into sub-categories.

4. Identify their priority negotiating points … what is it they are wanting most out of the negotiation.

5. Identify what your own constituency can live with, and what they would crucify you for at the next elections

Phase 2: Set the stage

1. Allow every party to make high level statements … this makes them feel important and that they are playing a role.

2. Make your own high level statement, use grand phrases that infer a lot but promise nothing.  End on a note of challenge (“We must rise to our common but differentiated responsibility”), and a voice of encouragement (“Working together, we can do this”).

3. Get your friendly partner nations to reinforce this message (you may have to agree to some trade concessions or such like, but that’s a small price to pay, and you can always renege on them in future negotiations around those agreements — remember then this guidance document for those negotiations).

4. Suggest what your own commitment might be … choosing something that is mostly palatable to your own electorate.  It does not have to be enough to achieve the goal, just so long as it’s more than what most others will do.  Remember, this is only a suggestion you are making, you’re not bound by it.

5. Propose a carrot: say a block of funds for the non-1st world nations.

6. Let the discussions rumble, encourage other nations to see and express a vision of great opportunity and benefit.

Phase 3: Bringing it all together for your own benefit

1. Introduce the idea that access to the carrot should be prioritized on a needs basis.

2. Let the discussion reflect on the implications of this.

3. Selecting from your sub-categories of nations (see Phase 1, step 3) suggest that the least resourced nations have priority access, even if it means there is not enough carrot to go around.

4. Let the fire of schism flame up — stoking gently where needed.

Phase 4: Closure

1. Watch all the good intentions collapse amidst the infighting.

2. Take the moral high ground with a high level statement, note that you were willing and ready to play your part.  Emphasize that the need is great (it’ll make you seem like you believe it), and that you were ready to make great contributions.

3. Sadly reflect on the unfortunate inability to come to an agreement through no fault of your own, but because everyone else degenerated into self-interest competition.

4. After the event, conclude complicated bilateral agreements with those opponents who have resources you want, and embed in the small print all those clauses that make the agreement mostly, if not entirely, beneficial to yourself.

5. Prepare for the next round of negotiations in the following year, start at Phase 1, step 1 again.

Hypothetical example

Say there is a negotiation on climate change.  The other nations in the negotiations will likely include less developed nations.  One could suggest, say, an adaptation fund of some large value (large in the eyes of developed nations, but not necessarily really big compared to, say, your recent bank bailout costs).  This will be more than enough of a carrot to disrupt any meaningful conclusion to the negotiations, and if you are successful, you get to keep your carrot anyway.


If you diligently follow the above, you will be able to perpetuate matters for an indefinite time, say 17 years even!  And all the time you will be able to conduct business as usual and reap the benefits of the resources in other nations. Caution: hypothetically, in some situations there may be independent forces involved that even you can’t control, but none of us really think this is likely, and even then we can probably geo-engineer ourselves out of this and also sell the technology to developing nations for a profit.


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