Consequences of Negotiation Failure

by Professor Manie Spoelstra

This article examines the consequences and results when people fail to negotiate.

In recent times we have seen the gloomy results when parties fail to negotiate and peacefully resolve their conflicts. Here are two of the most revealing examples that illustrate failure in a negotiation context:

  • Mr Robert Mugabe, in his capacity as the president of Zimbabwe, made the decision not to negotiate the redistribution of land with local stakeholders. Instead, he opted to resort to an illegal invasion of local land. The failure to negotiate and subsequent consequences have led to the destruction of the livelihood of thousands of Zimbabweans, regardless of cultural background, and ruined the economy. This has resulted in a state of vandalism and lawlessness, the devastation of the legal system, and has scared away potential investors while creating a very severe food crisis. By choosing conflict over negotiation, a country of great potential was bankrupt within two years. Inflation has soared to 220,9%, the budget deficit has risen to 11,9%, and the money supply has been increased by an astronomical 156%. The cost of unleaded fuel has spiraled by 128%, and the exchange rate ZWD/USD now stands at 3 300.
  • In the United Nations, the states that comprise the Security Council have deliberately chosen to pursue their diverse views on Iraq to a point where it was not been possible to find a consensus. This has resulted in what some perceive to be as an illegal war that will have consequences extending far into the future. Instead of striving together to find a mutually acceptable negotiated solution to the dilemma posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, they intentionally chose to use this issue as a battleground to score points off each other. The regrettable results are the serious erosion of the influence of the United Nations tensions within the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (all instruments of negotiation). Additionally, the people of Iraq are incurring the unnecessary further suffering of its people. Billions and billions of dollars that could have greatly alleviated the poverty in Africa, Asia and other continents is sadly now being utilized to topple a regime that could probably have been dislodged through a determined negotiation strategy.

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