April 11, 2017, 7:53 am
By Jordan Ryan
Jordan Ryan is vice president, peace programs, at The Carter Center.
In today’s world, the task for peacemakers is urgent.
The Carter Center’s motto is “Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope.” A promise to wage peace acknowledges that true peace is more than just the absence of conflict. Peacebuilders know that conflicts will recur if underlying causes are not addressed.
In a series of posts here, I share some of the approaches to waging peace that The Carter Center and its founder, former President Jimmy Carter, have developed or learned over many years.
Principle No. 2: One size does not fit all.
The approach to negotiations must vary, depending on the local facts, nationalities, and interests involved.
Peacemakers have to understand that different cultures have different negotiating styles. You may have a very good plan to offer, but if you present it in a way that offends one or more of the parties, they’ll never hear it, and they’ll certainly never accept it.
During his presidency, President Carter found that the Soviet Union used aggressive negotiating tactics and confrontation, while the Chinese were far more civil. Yet the Chinese negotiators could be difficult to persuade, while the Soviets could compromise. Because he understood substance mattered more than style, he completed historic deals with both.
Check back next month for the next principle: Patience and Persistence Pay Off
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