Costly Negotiation Failures

by Professor Manie Spoelstra

This article captures the sad consequences of failure to negotiate and peacefully resolve conflicts by highlighting two of the most telling examples.

During the recent past we have witnessed the rather sad consequences of failure to negotiate and peacefully resolve conflicts. The following are but two of the most telling examples that immediately come to mind:

  • The president of Zimbabwe, Mr Robert Mugabe chose not to negotiate with stakeholders regarding the redistribution of land, but to rather resort to an illegal system of land invasions that have destroyed the livelihood of thousands of Zimbabweans, regardless of cultural background, wrecked the economy, created a state of vandalism and lawlessness, decimated the legal system, frightened off investors and caused a very severe food crisis. Within two years his choice of conflict over negotiation has bankrupted a country with immense potential. Inflation has spiralled to 220,9%, the budget deficit has increased to 11,9%, money supply has had to increased by an astronomical 156%, the cost of unleaded fuel has soared by 128%, and the exchange rate ZWD/USD now stands at 3 300.
  • In the Security Council of the United Nations the elder states of the world deliberately sought to pursue their divergent views on Iraq to a point where no consensus could be reached, thereby creating what could be described as an illegal war that is set to have far reaching future consequences. Instead of together seeking to find a mutually acceptable negotiated approach to the problem of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, they deliberately chose to use this issue as a battleground to score points off each other. The sad consequences are a serious erosion of the influence of the United Nations tensions within the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (all instruments of negotiation), and the unnecessary further suffering the people of Iraq are now yet again exposed to. Billions and billions of dollars that could have greatly contributed to poverty alleviation in Africa, Asia and other continents are sadly now being used to destroy a regime that could probably have been dislodged through a resolute negotiation strategy.

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