Ethics in Peace Negotiations : Roles and Considerations According to Experts
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Research on peace negotiations and mediation lacks a systematic analysis of the role of ethics in negotiation processes from the perspective of the conflict parties. This study fills this knowledge gap by exploring the following research questions: (1) What role does ethics play in peace negotiations according to experts? (2) What are the main ethical considerations that experts identify in peace negotiations? The thesis uses a qualitative approach to answer the posed research questions through semi-structured in-depth interviews with experts in the field of peace negotiations and mediation. It analyzes and discusses the collected data using the ‘situated holism framework’. Developed by Lidén and Syse (2021), this framework consists of five interconnected dimensions – positions, participants, practices, procedures, and principles – and offers a tool to map the multifaceted role of ethics and ethical considerations that experts identify in peace negotiations. This thesis finds that according to the experts interviewed, ethics is a constantly present, although not always explicit, parameter in the reality of peace negotiations. However, their understanding of its role varies. While some minimize the effects of ethical concerns referring to the role of power and interests, others emphasize the significance of the ethical dimension. Experts identify various ethical considerations relevant for conflict parties across different cases of peace negotiations, which include: (1) whether it is ethical for conflict parties to settle for a peace agreement that may affect the public, minorities, future generations, or others who may not be represented at the table; (2) whether conflict parties can negotiate during ongoing violent conflict; and (3) how conflict parties should deal with competing principles, behavioral standards, or substantial positions arising during negotiations. While experts disagree on how and why ethics matters, this thesis argues that the role of ethics is significant and that ethical considerations have a real impact on peace negotiations.