A selection of terms that readers may find useful in understanding and designing negotiation processes.
accord – n.
an official agreement or treaty.
act – n.
a law passed formally by a parliament.
actors – n.
people at whatever level, ‘acting’ individually or collectively, taking part in any affair.
administration (water) – n.
the organization and running of a system to manage the supply, allocation, demand and care for water.
agreement – n.
negotiated arrangement; does not necessarily imply full satisfaction by all parties, nor unanimity on the reasons behind a decision, but reflects reaching an arrangement or product that is workable and acceptable to all.
policy, law and other management arrangements that govern water-related behaviour; agreements (like negotiations) can be at different levels and scales, non-binding or binding (i.e., legally enforceable), formal or informal, verbal or written.
allocation (water) – n.
formal and informal decision processes (and non-decisions) that alter the physical distribution of water, and water-related rewards, risks, rights and responsibilities.
amendment – n.
a minor improvement; agreements can and should be amended over time as circumstances change, and adaptation is required.
arbitrator – n.
an independent person or body officially appointed to settle a dispute.
assisted negotiation – n.
as the number of parties and/or issues in a negotiation increases, it is often necessary to involve a neutral facilitator or mediator to help manage the negotiation processes of deliberation, problem solving, choice making, consensus seeking or optimization.
authority – n.
the power or right to give orders and enforce obedience; or, a person or organization having official power; or, recognized knowledge or expertise.
bargain – v.
negotiate the terms of an agreement. Example phrase, ‘hard bargaining’, meaning pressing forcefully for a deal in one's favour. Hard bargaining is often associated with competitive modes of negotiation.
best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA)
concept developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury.86 Rather than focus on a traditional ‘bottom line’, they argued negotiators should know what possible outcomes are available in the absence of a successful negotiation. By researching and thinking creatively about the non-negotiated options, it is possible to have a clear measure against which any negotiated agreement can be measured. Knowing your BATNA strengthens your position and if you know the other side's BATNA you have an even better chance of making the right decisions during a negotiation. If accepting this logic, parties doing better than their BATNA becomes a necessary condition for agreement.
bill – n.
draft of a proposed law presented to parliament for discussion.
breakthrough – n.
a sudden important development or success, such as a significant step forward in a negotiation which moves parties closer to an agreement.
charter – n.
a written constitution or description of an organization's functions; or, a written statement of the rights of a specified group of people.
coalition – n.
a temporary alliance.
code – n.
a systematic collection of laws or statutes e.g., the penal code; or, a set of conventions governing behaviour.
competition – n.
the activity of competing against others, where to compete (v.) is to strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others.
compliance – n.
the action or fact of complying, where to comply means to act in accordance with a wish, or command, to meet specified standards, which may have been defined in one or other type of agreement.
compromise – n.
an agreement reached by each side making concessions; or, an intermediate state between conflicting opinions, reached by mutual concession.
concession – n.
a thing conceded, or given up, or chosen to be left out.
conflict – n.
an incompatibility between opinions, principles, etc. Conflict is not necessarily bad, abnormal or dysfunctional, but rather an inherent element of human interaction. When thinking about the directions taken by society, the governance processes by which we deal with conflict are what really matter. Where there is conflict, parties may be less inclined or able to participate fully or constructively in negotiations until the conflict is adequately acknowledged.
consensus building – n.
the process of seeking unanimity in group decision making, through carefully managed dialogue and joint problem-solving negotiations. A consensus-building process may settle for a workable agreement, in which participants agree on a course of action, but for different reasons, after all parties have had a chance to express their views and no further investment of time or effort will improve the agreement from anyone's standpoint without disadvantaging others.
contract – n.
a written or spoken agreement intended to be enforceable by law.
convention – n.
an agreement between countries.
cooperation – n.
the action of cooperating, i.e., of working together towards the same end, purpose, or effect; joint operation.
deliberation – n.
deliberation is debate and discussion aimed at producing reasonable, well informed opinions in which participants are willing to revise preferences in light of discussion, new information, and claims made by fellow participants. Although consensus need not be the ultimate aim of deliberation, and participants are expected to pursue their interests, an overarching interest in the legitimacy of outcomes (understood as justification to all affected) ideally characterizes deliberation.87
dialogue – n.
discussion directed towards exploration of a subject or resolution of a problem.
discourse – n.
a discourse is a shared set of concepts, categories and ideas that provides its adherents with a framework for making sense of situations, embodying judgements, assumptions, capabilities, dispositions and intentions. It provides basic terms for analysis, debates, agreements and disagreements.88 Discourses can embody power in that they condition norms and perceptions of actors, suppressing some interests while advancing others. Understanding discourses will enable greater understanding of the behaviour of different parties in any negotiation.
dispute – n.
a disagreement. A dispute refers to a more specific issue or disagreement than a conflict, and can be due to a particular incident where one or more party is aggrieved. Parties may be in dispute due to an incident without there being any significant underlying conflict (incompatibilities, etc.).
engage – v.
attract or involve (someone's interest or attention); or, (engage in/with) participate or become involved in.
equity – n.
the quality of being fair and impartial.
ethics (in water negotiation) – n.
the moral principles governing or influencing conduct. People's experience haggling over price in markets encourages many to think that it is acceptable to be untruthful in negotiations. It is common for negotiators to exaggerate the value of something, say that they have more attractive alternative offers, or to misrepresent information important to the negotiation. In negotiations over water issues, hollow threats and other dishonest devices may be used. Apart from the moral reasons for not being untruthful or exaggerating, there are practical reasons for being ethical. If people provide misleading information it is difficult to achieve outcomes that genuinely rely on what is of high value to one side and of low cost to the other. Also, long-term resentment can flow from dishonest negotiations as untruths often become evident as the negotiation progresses.
facilitate – v.
make easy or easier.
governance – n.
the action or manner of governing; the system of controlling, directing, or regulating influence; more than government, governance refers to the complex of processes and institutions by which society contests, makes and manages decisions.
governance (water) – n.
the range of political, social, economic and administrative systems that are in place to develop and manage water resources, and the delivery of water services, at different levels of society.89
hegemony – n.
dominance, especially by one State or social group over others.
high value-low cost – adj.
negotiators need to learn what is of high value to their own side and seek to claim it, and what is of low cost and be willing to concede it. They should also try to learn the same about the other side so that both sides can gain as much as possible of high value, while giving away what is of low cost.
institutions – n.
institutions are persistent, predictable arrangements, laws, processes or customs serving to structure political, social, cultural or economic transactions and relationships in a society. They may be informal or formal, and allow organized, collective efforts around common concerns. Although persistent, institutions constantly evolve.90
interests – n.
interests are what underlie stated positions and provide insight into needs, wants, desires, concerns, hopes, fears and values. Interests may be substantive (referring to the content of the problem/issue), relational (about ways of relating, and of valuing the relationship) or procedural (related to how fair the process is, and the quality of participation and decision making).91 Interests are not just reworded positions. They can involve multiple layers, ranging from fulfilling basic needs to desire for understanding, creativity, stimulation, meaning, rationality, dignity, choice, control, autonomy and distributive justice (see ‘positions’).
issue – n.
an important topic for debate or resolution.
jurisdiction – n.
the territory or sphere over which the legal authority of a court or other institution extends.
law – n.
a rule or system of rules recognized by a country or community as regulating the actions of its members and enforced by the imposition of penalties.
law (soft and hard)
soft law refers to quasi-legal instruments which do not have any legally binding force, or whose binding force is somewhat weaker than the binding force of traditional law, often contrasted with soft law by being referred to as ‘hard law’. Traditionally, the term ‘soft law’ is associated with international law, such as most resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly.
legislation – n.
legitimate – adj.
confirming to the law or to rules; or, able to be defended with logic or justification.
litigate – v.
go to law, be a party to a lawsuit; or, take (a dispute) to a law court.
mediate – v.
try to settle a dispute between other parties.
multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) – n.
part of governance in which different stakeholders are identified, and usually through representatives, invited and assisted to interact in a deliberative forum that focuses on: sharing knowledge and perspectives, generating and examining options, and informing and shaping negotiations and decisions.
mutual gains – n.
the benefits from a negotiation should not be proscribed by the limitations of the basic objectives that are evident at the outset. Negotiators should seek ways of expanding the pie for the benefit of both (or all) parties. Such creative thinking can lead to mutual gains. The classic example is the story of the two sisters negotiating over how to divide an orange. Cutting it in half would give each the minimum benefit, but when the two girls question each other about the use to which the orange will be put, they discover that one needs the inside to make orange juice and the other needs the peel to make marmalade, with the result that they can both gain the full use of the orange for their respective purposes.
negotiation – n.
a process of interaction by which two or more parties, with differences to be reconciled or choices to be made, seek to do better through jointly decided action than they might do by acting individually; the main aim of negotiation is to reach a workable, acceptable agreement to all parties.92 This is the definition included in Chapter 1.
neutral – n.
an impartial or unbiased state or person.
neutral (in water negotiations)
a person/organization deemed acceptable by all key parties to assist constructive negotiations move forward by acting as an intermediary; an independent who needs to have high-quality negotiation skills. Whilst all actors have views and biases, a person/organization engaged as a neutral must put aside their own biases and focus on supporting all negotiating parties. However, the neutral should declare and maintain their own process bias, such as their own commitment to unforced consensus seeking.
non-decisions – n.
decisions consciously avoided or ‘not taken’, either because they are too difficult, or perhaps because leaving something vague or ambiguous provides advantage to one or other party.
paradigms – n.
the fundamental orienting philosophies underpinning the ways we perceive, understand and interpret things, and thus informing our attitudes and behaviours. Often these can limit us from accepting alternatives or new ways.
paradigm shift – n.
a significant shift in our paradigm, such that not only do aspects we thought inconceivable all of a sudden appear possible, but often the ‘impossible’ becomes ‘the obvious’.
Pareto plus principle – n.
a negotiation principle which holds that if proposing a new project or development, not only should no-one be made worse off, but all potentially disadvantaged peoples are made absolutely better off.
party – n.
a person or group forming one side in an agreement or dispute or negotiation.
plan – n.
a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something; or, an intention or decision about what one is going to do.
policy – n.
a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by an organization or individual.
positions – n.
specifically stated solutions (or offers) to a problem or situation. They describe what is wanted or sought. A position may be presented as if there is no other viable option, and can appear to be a party's main aim or goal (see ‘interests’).
power – n.
the ability to do something or act in a particular way; or, the capacity to influence other people or the course of events; or, a right or authority given or delegated to a person or body; or, political authority or control.
procedure – n.
an established or official way of doing something.
protocol – n.
the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of State or diplomatic occasions; or, the accepted code of behaviour in a particular situation.
ratify – v.
give formal consent to; make officially valid.
regulation – n.
a rule or directive made and maintained by an authority.
responsibility – n.
the state or fact of being responsible; or, the opportunity or ability to act independently and take decisions without authorization; or, a thing which one is required to do as part of a job, role or legal obligation.
reward – n.
a fair return for good or bad behaviour; v. (to be rewarded) receive what one deserves.
right – n.
justifiable claim, or legal or moral grounds, to have or obtain something, or to act in a certain way.
risk – n.
exposure to danger or loss.
rule – n.
a regulation or principle governing conduct or procedure within a particular sphere
social learning – n.
social learning has been described as ‘the interactive way of getting things done in theatres with actors who are interdependent with respect to some contested natural resource or ecological service. The interactive way of getting things done is based on conflict resolution, negotiated agreement, shared learning, convergence of goals, theories, and systems of monitoring, and concerted action’.93 They are more than just participatory exercises, but, facilitated participation does play a key role. Building blocks of social learning are: the constructivist paradigm, an orientation towards reflection and action, and a commitment to try and take a systemic or holistic approach.94
stakeholder – n.
a person with an interest or concern in something.
stalemate – n.
a situation in which further progress by opposing parties seems impossible; an impasse.
statute – n.
a written law passed by a legislative body; or, a rule of an organization or institution.
strategy – n.
a plan designed to achieve a particular long-term aim.
subsidiarity – n.
the principle that a central authority should perform only those tasks which cannot be performed at a more local level.
sustainable – adj.
of, relating to, or designating forms of human economic activity and culture that do not lead to environmental degradation, especially avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources.
trade-off – n.
a balance achieved between two desirable but incompatible features; a compromise.
transboundary waters – n.
waters that flow across a boundary, for example, a border between states or provinces or local jurisdictions; the sharing of transboundary waters, as with any other waters, is best negotiated.
treaty – n.
a formally concluded and ratified agreement between States.
vision – n.
the ability to think about the future with imagination or wisdom; or, a mental image of what the future will or could be like.
Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA)
the BATNAs (Best Alternatives To a Negotiated Agreement) of all parties define a zone of possible agreement. The wider the ZOPA, the more possibilities for negotiating a workable agreement.
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