Two separate stories I read about recently highlight some important basic fundamental points about negotiation.

LESSON 1: Having a unified negotiating team is very important for success

The reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah back in May, discussed in this article ( makes it more likely that together they can achieve a constructive result in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Individuals are often more intent on picking holes in their opponents on the same team, rather than focusing on the deal with the other side but a divided negotiating team rarely achieves anything.

LESSON 2: Both sides in a negotiation must want a negotiated outcome

There are a number of positive suggestions advanced in that same article which could help move negotiations between Palestine and Israel forward at some point, especially the so-called IPI which puts economic co-operation at its heart and the Parallel States project (two states occupying one country). However, the key, as it has always been, is to get both parties in a state where their key decision makers want peace more than war. Until that point is reached nothing further will be achieved.

LESSON 3: All stakeholders need to be present or represented with their consent for a negotiation to work

I read here ( that talks collapsed at the end of June between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh when both sides failed to accept the “Basic Priniciples” for a peace deal proposed by the ‘Minsk Group’ mediators.

Interestingly, Nagorno-Karabakh itself had not actually been involved in any of the discussions regarding its future. It’s a fairly extraordinary thought that a party which is the subject of a negotiation plays no part in its process. All parties with a vested interest need to be involved in any given negotiation; otherwise it’s too easy for the excluded party to say “no” to a solution negotiated by the other stakeholders.

LESSON 4: Don’t get involved in a negotiation unless you have a vested interest in its outcome

The US, France and the UK are all involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation, yet seemingly have no motivation to move it towards an outcome – what is the point of their involvement?