SOVEREIGN GAME: HOW TO SOLVE SOVEREIGNTY CONFLICTS (PART 9 OF 21)

“Why”. What are the interests underlying the positions?

Whereas the status quo or the exclusive sovereignty of Khemed by one of the parties (Khemed, Syldavia or Borduria) are valid options, they could literally result in either a loss of claimed rights for one or several claimants or permanent interference when deciding issues with consequences to all of them. By applying the rules of maximax or minimax the representatives know the dispute will continue endlessly or the peace obtained will not last long. If the representatives decided to apply the rule of minimax that would mean that the decision that involved less risk would be taken. In principle, status quo seems to be that option. However, if the representatives were extremely optimists, they might want to follow the rule of maximax and give the total sovereignty over Khemed to either Khemed, Syldavia or Borduria. First, how do they decide to which of the three? Secondly, even if they were able to decide which of these three very optimist parties get the total sovereignty, how would they be able to secure the permanency of such an agreement?

Considering these three populations and their representatives in light of a sovereignty conflict such as Khemed in which the world is about to end, they all need and want the same rare natural resources and their representatives do now know whom they represent, it is highly likely they would make a conservative choice. If they wanted to have actual use of their claimed rights over the third territory they would have to make mutual concessions; in essence, they would have to “slice” their rights into different portions or shares. This is the solution all the representatives would see as viable if they decided to apply the rule of maximin. Let us consider in more detail the reasoning leading to this decision.
Similar to what happens with an orange or a cake (our very first post of these series), the key to resolve the issue about the sovereignty over Khemed is to shift the focus. With the orange and the cake, we had reasonable people that decided to stop arguing about who was the rightful owner of either the orange and the cake and started asking each other why each of them wanted them. With a conflict such as Khemed, people may folliow a similar path. Assuming the people in Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria are reasonable, the representatives in the negotiation understand this shift is necessary if they want to achieve a peaceful and permanent solution.
Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria ought to stop asking “what” they claim and must start asking “why” their counter-parts are claiming. When we have a conflict of interest and we aim to achieve a peaceful and permanent solution the first task is to understand each of the claiming parties, each of their positions, what they want and what their interests are. All the previously mentioned points are inter-connected, they are all very similar, but there is a myriad of differences amongst them. On what is important here, there is a crucial difference between what Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria want and why each of these parties want it. These parties may go into war, thousands of lives may be lost, each party knows what their position is (they all want exclusive and ultimate sovereignty over Khemed) but are they clear what their respective interests are? That is to say, what are the key points, the priorities each of these population value the most? Why are they willing to go to war? What is behind their actions?

The crucial question is to ask each of the representatives “why” Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria want the exclusive and ultimate sovereignty over Khemed. By doing this, they have better chances for cooperation and therefore, better chances to meet their respective interests. By looking behind positions the representatives are able to see the underlying interests, needs, concerns of each of the three peoples.

In the particular case of the dispute over Khemed, it seems that if any of the parties gets their position, the other two will be left empty handed. However, it may be possible that the representatives in the negotiations decided to share the benefits and burdens in respect to Khemed and the maximin rule would be the chosen one for the distribution of benefits and burdens—i.e. to share sovereignty.

What are their individual interests? Does Khemed have an economic interest? Do Khemedians want to profit on the exploitation and exploration of the rare metal? Is there a cultural component? are Syldavians or Bordurians interested in preserving their heritage after the end of their world? Is it simply political and all three parties want control over the decision-making progress about how to explore and exploit the rare metal in Khemed? Do they simply want to be recognise as a society that is in danger of extension and wants to make sure their offspring are safe in the future?

By accepting each other in the negotiations as peers and by accepting to listen to each other’s positions and the reasons behind these positions, the representatives of Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria may advance in their interests. That is because the negotiations shift the focus. Instead of asking what each party wants (they all know, the ultimate and exclusive sovereignty over Khemed) the representatives are asking why Khemed, Syldavia and Borduria want it. By acknowledging the reasons behind their claims, the representatives gain valuable knowledge: the interests that motivate each party to claim. From there, mutual concessions and cooperation will secure reciprocal understanding, maximising their resources and in the end, that may be able to avoid extinction.
We have assumed that the representatives do not know whom they represent and they have to accept that they might be representing any of the three populations. So, the representatives are driven by maximin. The issue now is to determine the nature and size of each particular share of sovereignty. It is for that reason that the following posts will reviewed how different solutions can be applied to Khemed.
Jorge Emilio Núñez

16th October 2017

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