Write a essay illustrating your analytical abilities, using the question below.
After the 25 years of violent conflict, partisan and pro-republic militias in the area of Northern Ireland called ceasefires in the year 1994. At the similar time, President of United States Bill Clinton initiate the economic advantages that automatically enhance the involvement of US in Northern Ireland and also reflect his desire to negotiate the peace agreement among the warriors groups. All these events result in the creation of breathing space for politicians in the Northern Ireland and also result in the beginning of practical talks at serious level. In the role of negotiators, these politicians required to address the conflict at each and every level in terms of agreeing upon the type of power-sharing government accepted by all sides and also the role played by Republic of Ireland in the North. However, this task was not easy at all.
This agreement was concluded after the four years of cease fires, and it address number of issues such as issue related to decommissioning (putting paramilitary weapons beyond use) and the involvement of Sinn Fein—a political party with links to the Irish Republican Army (IRA), etc. The ceasefires not always hold, and negotiators involved in the conflicts either in the name of political violence or sectarian killing. Even negotiation was not final in the final days also, as there was no sign which states that talks between the parties would successfully completed. Still, political parties of Northern Ireland and the British and Irish governments concluded the compromise between them, and reached to an acceptable solution which was agreed by number of parties at last.
Violence which was conducted from number of centuries would ultimately convert into the peace arrangement and this arrangement was resulted in the Good Friday Agreement. Discharging of this agreement would complete in different stages and the power sharing government became a functioning as an independent body in the Northern Ireland.
George Mitchell (Representative of President Clinton) spent number of years of his life on working on this Good Friday Agreement, as he worked with both the sides for developing the principles that create the foundation for this agreement. Mitchell get success in brokering the agreement in such situation when both hindrance and failure leave their spots on the earlier attempts made to bring all the parties together in terms of ending the violence. Further, there was failed attempt of meditation and negotiation in the year 1991-1992, and must be noted that government was collapsed because of the Sunning dale Agreement in the year 1974 (Dixon, 2008, pp, 240-276)
Mitchell succeeded at the time when others had failed, and this give rise to the question what mediation skills were used by the Mitchell to conclude this agreement, and what political conditions arise which contributed in the contribution of this agreement. The main aim of this assignment is to critically discuss the role of mediator and its performance in the Good Friday Agreement. Structure of this assignment includes the brief about the agreement, critical evaluation of the role and performance of mediator. At the end, brief conclusion is stated to conclude the agreement.
Attempts at Negotiation
This assignment is based on the presumption that Mitchell was the deciding aspect in the talks success, and this can be said that after the deep research of literature and other relevant materials. This theory completely focuses on the role played by Mitchell, and his skills as the mediator such as his patience and ability to build trust and relationships on both the sides of the divide.
However, beyond the personal characteristics sincere interest of US was also represented by the Mitchell, which not only attract the attention of international authorities but also the sense of urgency to the talks as major powers of the world were involved. Some other factors also favor in this context such as regional factors, changes occurred in the government of national level because of the elections in both Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom in the year 1977, as it created more flourish environment for the negotiations between the parties. Each and every government played more amendable role on the key issues and this happened because they were no longer reserved by the voting base demands.
All these changes occurred in the government structures helped the Mitchell to bring about Sinn Fein’s entrance into the talks, as it was considered as the importance occurrence in terms of concluding any agreement which resulted to carry on the weight of the republican community. Additionally, this peace process initiated with the opposition of revolutionaries interaction in the prisons during the year 1970-80, and all these interactions were successful. In this context, former prisoners had been released and they were integrated into different political parties for ensuring that things would become better.
This was the reason for which Mitchell found himself in the rare position while mediating this conflict, as this conflict was reached the stage of maturity in terms of negotiation and compromise. On the level of external politics, there were actors who support the scope and desire to make the lasting changes. After that all the internal actors, revolutionary groups and other related parties were involved in the negotiation, and involvement of US worked as the last nail in the coffin and move the parties towards the negotiation agreement.
All these favorable circumstances allowed the Mitchell to precede the negotiation, and the trust of all the parties in him guide the negotiation to the conclusion in the year 1998 by imposing deadline on the parties at right moment. This paper analyzes the influence of all these factors in the negotiation process and also on the performance of the Mitchell. In other words, it mainly derives the effect of all these factors on the process of mediation and the manner in which all these factors contributed towards the performance of Mitchell.
Good Friday agreement was not the first negotiation attempt, as there were numbers of attempt made by the governments in terms of resolving this conflict. However, mediation conducted by George Mitchell was the first attempt which gets success.
It cannot be said that all the attempts made before the Good Friday agreement attempt were completely waste, as all these attempts contributed in some manner in the success of the mediation made by the George Mitchell. In other words, all these attempts contributed in the good performance of George Mitchell by creating foundation or base.
This period of violence between the parties lasted from the year 1969-94. In the midst of the terrorist attacks from both the sides, number of attempts of negotiation was made in each decade. It must be noted that , these was the sunningdale agreement of 1973, which was signed by the parties after the conference of government ministers from the UK and Ireland, and this was addition to the select group of political leaders from Northern Ireland. These political parties only include the members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP), and the Alliance Party. It can be said that no republicans were included in the conference, as there were no other unionist or political groups and this also include those groups which had more strong connections with the grassroots side.
This is the biggest reason because of which peoples of Northern Ireland failed to adopt this agreement, as they went on strike with the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) in May 1974 in context of cancelling down this agreement. This group of UWC includes large number of trade unionist which were related from the key industries, as they were accompanied with the predominantly protestant workforces. The UWCs mainly object because of the inclusion of Irish Council, as they considered it as the move towards the Irish unification. This issue between the negotiation parties resolved after the conclusion of Good Friday Agreement, as it was refused by the Republic of Ireland to made changes in its constitution for removing article 2 and 3, because they made claim to the entire Island. The Irish government clearly refused to made changes I its constitution even on the stake of Sunningdale’s agreement, and because of this those unionist who support this agreement previously further contributes in its cancellation.
Another attempt of negotiation was made in 1985 by the way of Anglo-Irish Agreement, as this agreement was negotiated by the government of British and Irish. This agreement was very different from the Sunningdale agreement because it does not include the representation of the political parties in the Northern Ireland. This new agreement further proposed the for the Republic of Ireland in the matters related to Northern Ireland, and this agreement also was harshly rejected by the unionists and their most vocal politician, Reverend Paisley. However, the most important achievement of this agreement was the introduction of the guarantee Northern Ireland would not become the part of the Republic of Ireland unless majority of the peoples of Northern Ireland casted their vote in favor of this change. While unionists always opposed this agreement, this particular guarantee open the way for the Good Friday Agreement, till the time it predicted the eventual changes in the constitution of Republic of Ireland. It can be said that, this guarantee favors in the Good Friday Agreement as more hard core opposes finally endorse this agreement.
Another attempt at negotiation was made during the time of 1990s by the way of Brook/Mayhew talks. This negotiation was chaired by the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Brooke in 1991 and Sir Patrick Mayhew in 1992), and its structure was similar to the structure of sunningdale conference. Ministers from both the governments that were Irish government and British government were present, and this was accompanied with the SDLP, the UUP, the DUP, and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) (CAIN Database). Again, representation on part of republican or loyalist paramilitary groups were missing and because of this settlement made between the political parties face similar opposition as the Sunningdale agreement.
One important event occurred during these proceedings, and that was no selfish strategy or economic interest was become the part of the Peter Brooke’s famous speech in November 1990 in the Northern Ireland, and United Ireland would only accept it if it would be the will of the people of Ireland. These talks were ended in the year 1992, at the time when secretary Mayhew stated that negotiations between the parties reached the deadlock.
Instead of the frustration and negative outcomes that had considered the efforts, still one positive outcome of these talks was generated. During these talks, three strand formats was employed for the first time and later this format was considered by the talks which were chaired by George Mitchell. It must be noted that, all three strands determined different aspects such as strand one include the internal affairs of the Northern Ireland, Strand two includes the proposed North-south institutions and also the relationships on the Island, and third strand considered the relationship between the governments of Britain and Republic of Ireland. Therefore, these talks were not successful but still it creates the foundation for the later talks and also moves the parties towards the possibility of a broader and more comprehensive settlement (Dixon, 2008, pp, 278-319).
Appointment of Senator George Mitchell in 1996 to chair the all-party talks was easy to predict from his assignments in Northern Ireland in 1995 after leaving the senate of US. At the beginning, he was appointed by Bill Clinton to shape the trade and investment conference. After that he was selected as one of the three members of the International Body on Decommissioning which was established by the Frameworks Document of the year 1995. During this process, Mitchell gains the knowledge about the people, history, and leaders of the Northern Ireland. After evaluating each and every aspects of mediation in peace process, deep understanding was developed about the mediation performance of the George Mitchell. It was easy to understand that Mitchell gives importance to every single and small detail, and he learned from the mistakes of previous attempts of negotiation.
It can be said that, Senator Mitchell style of mediation was one of the most important contributor in the success of this peace process such as rules adopted for resolving this issue, development of standards and principles as the base of the negotiation process, and independence of his office. E He was not accepted as the mediator from the beginning, as there were number of unionists who object the independence of Mitchell in the peace process. When Mitchell was introduce as the chaired person in context of peace negotiations at Stormont, there was high opposition from the unionists. The reasons behind this opposition were serious, as he was considered the part of Irish American lobby and his religion was another strike against him. However, number of opportunities was given to him to prove his independence and he did it every time. After evaluating this aspect, it was clear that effectiveness of his performance was mainly depend on his ability to win the trust and confidence of participants instead of the formal description of his authority.
He begin the multi-party talks after developing the set of rules, and it took almost 2 months for him to prepared these rules. By end of July 1996, Mitchell prepared the agreement related to these rules and principles. This agreement included the regulations which deals with the non-compliance of the party in terms of the conditions related to entering into the peace process, methods related to the voting on proposed resolutions, and confidentiality of the negotiation process. All the basic principles and standards related to this talk were set out at the initial stage of the negotiations, and all these standards and principles were named as the Mitchell principles. These principles were the set of six anti-violence statements that gives an avenue into all the party talks and also the foundation for this mediation process. Because of these principles, decommissioning would occur in parallel to the mediation process and it introduces the method through which hurdles and pre-conditions of paramilitary weapons were introduced by John Major. Instead of these, it was proposed by the Mitchell that absolute commitment was given by the parties to use the democratic and peaceful tools in context of resolving the political issues.
Once the general agenda had been created by the Mitchell, he moved towards the functional negotiations, and in this context he took the three strands format (developed in Brook/Mayhew talks) as the base of the functional negotiations. However, this issue of decommissioning-unionists required that paramilitary arms must be given up before the starting of the functional negotiations. During the time of discussions on decommissioning and subsequent negotiations, team Mitchell conducted number of meetings with the parties of negotiation process by using the strands as the base to deal with the global issues. Questions on parties were put by the Mitchell and his team members and they demand response and position on continuous basis in both manner that was orally and in writing. They try to understand the needs of all the parties, evaluate the needs, and then communicate the needs to other parties of the negotiation process. They further facilitate the direct communications between the parties through different means. Number of options was created by them for the parties and they include all these options in different aspects of process by using the little diplomacy and smaller group discussions for reaching to the areas of agreement. This was considered as another effective trait of the performance of Mitchell, as he facilitates the effective communication methods for resolving the issues between the parties. Effective communication is considered as key term in the process of mediation, and this tool was used by Mitchell in right manner (Feerick, 2003, pp. 229-258).
Mitchell convened the complete sessions in judicial manner for receiving the reports, made exchanges, and to deal with all the conflicts affect the talk in adverse manner. By the end of 1997, parties completed the opening discussions and prepared themselves to enter into the active negotiations. In terms of initiating the active negotiations, Document was created by the Mitchell in whom all the conflicts were noted down in terms of ensuring some give and take. This was an effective technique to reach to an agreement, if all the issues were bring together then only parties can made required trade-offs and compromises. Inclusive process was built by the Mitchell in terms of conducting this mediation process without any hurdle. Weather it was John Hume and Gerry Adams who all created the base in 1988 in terms of bring the Sinn Fein in the process of democracy, and this inclusive nature of the talks was the biggest reason which made the Mitchell mediation performance different from other attempts of negotiation. The involvement of UDP and PUP on the side of loyalists, Sinn Fein in terms of republicans, and efforts of two governments in created the actual inter-party dialogue. However, there was no direct communication between the unionist and Sinn Fein, as they never become the part of joint thinking and process which solves the issues jointly that was created after the discussion occurred over 20 months.
During the process of negotiation, importance was given to the symbols, appearances, and methods of communication by the Mitchell and his team members. This can be understood with the help of example; maximum part of the negotiation took place at Stormont, development of Belfast, they were commenced in an undistinguished government office building instead of the building through which Protestant-dominated Parliament governed the Northern Ireland. In similar manner, few parts of the negotiation related to this peace process were conducted in London and Dublin, so that both the communities do not believe that any favor was done on other community. Mitchell further cares in limiting the number of people who would be present at the time of important meetings in terms of encouraging the communication or ensure the presence of stenographer. When parties entered into negotiations during the period of 1998, the agenda related to parties become more specific in nature and the meetings become more frequent. Deadline was also set by the Mitchell in terms of building the momentum towards an agreement.
Deadline of the agreement play important role in the effective conclusion of Good Friday Agreement, and Mitchell also understood the importance of deadline. Mitchell states that in the absence of deadline, parties would not be able to decide anything. The fear of decision would be bigger for them, and because of this they would just keep talking and talking. In other words, parties prefer to keep this process ongoing and this happened because they fear the consequences of decision. Mitchell understood this fear and set deadline for the parties in terms of concluding this agreement. However, deadline would not guarantee any success, but the absence of the deadline would definitely results in the failure of the negotiation process. Because of this Mitchell set the deadline of Easter Weekend, and all the parties unanimously agreed to this.
After evaluate this aspect of Mitchell performance, it can be said that, Mitchell reflects the good understanding of the importance of time and its impact on the decision of parties. By deciding the deadline, Mitchell pressurized everyone to face the hurdles and took difficult decision for ensuring peace on the Island. It was not possible to maintain the seriousness of the negotiation after the particular time, and Mitchell understand this fact very well.
On 10th April 1998, agreement was concluded between the parties and finally this negotiation process comes to an end. Number of approaches and mechanisms were reflected by this process in terms of labor relations of America such as committees and subcommittees, smaller group discussions, and the formation of committees at the final stage of the agreement in terms of resolving the issues at the point of the final agreement. Other important factors of this mediation process were the format, location, and the constant sensitivity of the senator to each of the parties engaged in the process. Senator met with them frequently and separately over each and every aspect of the talks and ensure that beliefs and views of every party would be understood, give suggestions for resolve their issues, and circulated to them comment drafts of components which mainly includes the question, issues, and solutions.
It is very difficult to found any negative factors in the mediation performance of George Mitchell while resolving the conflicts of Northern Ireland. However, it can be said that few important base were already prepared for the Mitchell talks during the time of previous negotiation attempts. This base gives ultimate help to the Mitchell in concluding the peace agreement, but still use and applicability of these foundations were relied on the understanding of Mitchell or can be said that it was the big responsibility for Mitchell which he fulfilled in effective manner.
The way through which Mitchell conducted his performance throughout the talks made its success possible. For example; instead of the confidentiality agreement there were number of leaks, but still parties understood that senator and his team members would also fall under the restriction of maintaining the confidentiality of the process. This proved without any doubt at the time when first draft of the final agreement was prepared and distributed between the parties in April 1998, at that time confidentiality was considered as most important factors which was demanded by Mitchell from the parties and all parties unanimously complied to it.
Further, it was interesting to note that, in context of the personal role of mediator, Mitchell performed very well. Mitchell used his words very carefully while making the public statements and at the time when he spoke to the press at different events he does not share information with the press about the negotiation, but he will always show the hope of the successful conclusion of the agreement. Not even a single statement was conveyed to the press in such manner as it was misinterpreted or creates any hurdles in the successful completion of the negotiation process. It can be said that, he plays the role of mediator very effectively and efficiently. Throughout this process, Mitchell helped the parties in creating the agreement and reminded them that peace was foremost goal of this agreement and any alternative related to the agreement was not acceptable by the parties.
After considering the all above facts and situations, it can be said that performance of the Mitchell during the mediation process, reflects the evidence to the feasibility of the American mediation process in the international dispute resolution. He reflects all those personal qualities which must be present in the mediator for resolving such tricky conflict, and al these personal qualities were extra ordinary such as communication, trust building, patience, understanding of situations, and preserver. This negotiation process was the unique experience and example of the political understanding of USA. Discipline he used to regulate his office and team members was commendable, and respect given by him to each party during the mediation process was the model which can be used by the mediator in resolving the mediation dispute whether such dispute related to armed conflict or not (Everson, 2012, pp, 1-72).
There were number of scholars which review the mediation performance of the George Mitchell in the conflicts of Northern Ireland. These scholars determine the strategies and process interventions used by Mitchell and their team in resolving this issue. Some other elements are also considered by the scholar that becomes the part of this multi-party talk process. Following are the highlighted element of the performance of mediator in the Good Friday Agreement:
- Assessment of conflict was conducted at the initial stage of the process, as Mitchell met will all the stakeholders involved in the conflict during the period of November 1995-January 1996. He met with them as part of the three-man international commission on decommissioning. This move of Mitchell was considered as great move in terms of understanding all the players and resolves their underlying concerns. This move reduces the chances of opposition of talks at the end stage, and maximum credit for getting the commission off the ground was given to the Dick Spring (Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister).
- Another performance highlight of Mitchell was the negotiation occurred at the agreed set of ground rules. Mitchell spend god amount of time to ensure that negotiation occurred at the rules which were agreed by all the parties. At the initial stage, the process of mediation for Mitchell was not easy at all because all the unionist were suspicious about the intention of an American outsider who was shifting the parties towards an agreement by using the Kissinger style muscle mediation. Almost two months were spent by the Mitchell in the mediation process in terms of agreed the parties on the first point of Agenda.
- Mitchell uses the deadline of April 9th1998 (day before the Good Friday) for concluding the negotiation. Generally, people consider the negotiation as a continuous process, and does not give much importance to the time. By deciding the deadline, Mitchell pressurized everyone to face the hurdles and took difficult decision for ensuring peace on the Island. It was not possible to maintain the seriousness of the negotiation after the particular time, and Mitchell understand this fact very well.
- Mitchell realizes the value of the single text document in context of bringing down all the difficult issues together. Team of Mitchell bring all the different strands of negotiations process together on the document of 69 pages and serve it as the draft on the night of previous Monday. While unionists considered it to be “too green”, as it served as the text which mainly focus on line-by-line negotiations.
- Low profile style of Mitchell, short briefings for the media, and support from superpower were the biggest traits of the Mitchell performance. While balancing all these features of performance, team of Mitchell ensured the continuous networking among the parties. By serving the summaries of documents and also by making the precise public briefings, he remained optimistic ad encourages each and every related person to focus on the goal of peace only. He further blessed with the friendship of President Bill Clinton who opened the doors of White House for all the parties.
Al these above stated traits highlight the performance traits and moves of the George Mitchell while mediating the Good Friday Agreement. It must be noted that, Role of mediator does not end with the conclusion of Good Friday Agreement, as there were some issues arise after the conclusion of agreement such as reformed police force, the early release of political prisoners, and decommissioning of weapons. All these issues required the constant talks and meetings, and all this was well handled by Mitchell (Allison. 2010, pp, 111-135).
After considering the above facts, it is clear that Good Friday agreement was the unique example of good and effective mediation process. It clearly reflects the abilities required in the mediator for resolving the mediation dispute in which armed forces of two countries are involved. This theory completely focuses on the role played by Mitchell, and his skills as the mediator such as his patience and ability to build trust and relationships on both the sides of the divide. However, beyond the personal characteristics, sincere interest of US was also represented by the Mitchell, which not only attract the attention of international authorities but also the sense of urgency to the talks as major powers of the world were involved. This peace process initiated with the opposition of revolutionaries interaction in the prisons during the year 1970-80, and all these interactions were successful. In this context, former prisoners had been released and they were integrated into different political parties for ensuring that things would become better. This was the reason for which Mitchell found himself in the rare position while mediating this conflict, as this conflict was reached the stage of maturity in terms of negotiation and compromise. All these favorable circumstances allowed the Mitchell to precede the negotiation, and the trust of all the parties in him guide the negotiation to the conclusion in the year 1998 by imposing deadline on the parties at right moment.
Good Friday agreement was not the first negotiation attempt, as there were numbers of attempt made by the governments in terms of resolving this conflict, but unfortunately these attempts were not successful. It cannot be said that all the attempts made before the Good Friday agreement attempt were completely waste, as all these attempts contributed in some manner in the success of the mediation made by the George Mitchell. Further, it was interesting to note that, in context of the personal role of mediator, Mitchell performed very well. Mitchell used his words very carefully while making the public statements and at the time when he spoke to the press at different events he does not share information with the press about the negotiation, but he will always show the hope of the successful conclusion of the agreement. Not even a single statement was conveyed to the press in such manner as it was misinterpreted or creates any hurdles in the successful completion of the negotiation process. It can be said that, he plays the role of mediator very effectively and efficiently. Throughout this process, Mitchell helped the parties in creating the agreement and reminded them that peace was foremost goal of this agreement and any alternative related to the agreement was not acceptable by the parties.
After considering the all above facts and situations, it can be said that performance of the Mitchell during the mediation process, reflects the evidence to the feasibility of the American mediation process in the international dispute resolution. He reflects all those personal qualities which must be present in the mediator for resolving such tricky conflict, and al these personal qualities were extra ordinary such as communication, trust building, patience, understanding of situations, and preserver.
Allison. S. 2010. “The Shadow of the Past Over Conflict and Cooperation.” International Cooperation: The Extents and Limits of Multilateralism. I. William Zartman and Saadia Touval, eds. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Everson, M.D., 2012. What went right in Northern Ireland?: an analysis of mediation effectiveness and the role of the mediator in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh).
Feerick, J.D., 2003. The Peace-Making Role of a Mediator. Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol., 19, p.229.
Dixon, P., 2008. Northern Ireland: The politics of war and peace. Macmillan International Higher Education.