Free chapter for Negotiating at the United Nations

A Lesson in Multilateral Negotiations

In a dynamic, interconnected world, we collectively face ever-more-difficult policy debates at all levels. In nearly every discussion, there will be multiple actors, myriad vested interests, and vast differences in perspective on the solution (or the need for a solution at all!). Radically different data sets will be cited, and assumptions held, from proponents on each side. Though critically necessary, a solution will appear unattainable…it’s the basic setup for a classic multilateral negotiation.

To achieve successful outcomes from policy discussions, a multilateral approach is the only way forward. With that in mind, I’d offer one key piece of advice, based on my decade in multilateral negotiations, to any and all stakeholders - my “Lesson One in Multilateral Negotiations” is Make Friends.

The other stakeholders may, in reality, feel and behave more like combatants than friends. However, it is a mistake to view them this way. Better solutions come from listening and brainstorming, and creating an atmosphere that fosters these collaborative processes. The first thing to do in any negotiation is get to know your counterparts and understand them - all of them, and not only those who appear to be on your side. You don’t have to actually like the other participants in the discussion (though it helps), but respect is a necessity and admiration (even grudging) is a bonus. Building a relationship will allow you to see the person behind – and beyond – the position she is promoting.

“Making friends” seems an obvious tactic, but it’s easy to lose sight of this in the heat of the moment. Remembering to build relationships early is an investment that will pay off – they are key to a successful outcome. Rather than fighting for a position, work with partners to protect it…because it is in everyone’s interest to reach a good policy outcome.

Rebecca W. Gaudiosi, co-author of Negotiating at the United Nations





More about Negotiating at the United Nations:

This book offers a comprehensive practitioner's guide to negotiating at the United Nations.

Although much of the content can be applied broadly, the guide focuses on navigating multilateral negotiations at the UN. The book is a tool to help new UN negotiators, explaining basic negotiation concepts and offering insight into the complexities of the UN system. It also offers a playbook for cooperation for negotiators at any level, exploring the dynamics of relationships and alliances, the art of chairing a negotiation, and the importance of balancing the power asymmetries present in any multilateral discussion. The book proposes improvements to the UN negotiation process and looks at the impact of information technologies on negotiation dynamics; it also shares stories from women UN delegates, illustrating what it means to be a female negotiator at the UN. This book is an exploration of the power of the individual in any negotiation, and of the responsibility all negotiators have in wielding that power to speak for a better world.

This book will be of much interest to students of diplomacy, global governance, foreign policy, and International Relations, as well as practitioners and policymakers.

Featured Title

  • Negotiating at the United Nations

    A Practitioner's Guide, 1st Edition

    By Rebecca W. Gaudiosi, Jimena Leiva Roesch, Wu Ye-Min

    This book offers a comprehensive practitioner's guide to negotiating at the United Nations. Although much of the content can be applied broadly, the guide focuses on navigating multilateral negotiations at the UN. The book is a tool to help new UN negotiators, explaining basic negotiation…

    Paperback – 2019-12-20 
    Routledge