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Junior Model UN Blog: Homeschoolers Tackle International Negotiation

Mediation and Negotiation

September 11, 2012: Talking Stick Learning Center's Junior Model UN program recently spent two weeks working on caucusing and consensus building. They were divided into three groups and a mediator was chosen for a mediation simulation. They all received the same background problem, and the groups were tasked with informally negotiating a resolution to the problem with the mediator's help. Here is a shorted version of the problem.

A civil war has divided your country into three territories controlled by three separate factions. The factions must come to peace terms regarding power sharing, control of natural resources, and autonomy. The first faction is a group of indigenous people living in the northern part of the state. A large portion of their farmland has been destroyed by a diamond mine. The mine is also causing the pollution of the main water source for this area and lands that are downstream. These people have turn to violence to sabotage the mining efforts and attempt to reclaim their land. The second faction is ruled by the mine owner. Using mine profits to fund a rebellion, the mine owner has engaged in illegal trading of diamonds. The mine owner refused to allow the government any profits from the mine or to discontinue illegal trade. The government, the third faction, has cut off the mine owners access to the trade routes, and will not stand down until the mine owner steps taking advantage of the local population, the miners, the environment, and stops illegal trading.

After hearing and discussing the problem, each faction in the mediation was given a card describing the issues they could spend time negotiating, and the issues they must have settled in their favor.

Faction One: Indigenous People

MUST have fertile land to farm and control over the land;
WANTS the mine to be environmentally safe as the most fertile farmlands are downstream;
WOULD LIKE money from the mine as composition for their land being taken away;
IS WILLING to move to another location if they are given ownership of it.

Faction Two: Mine Owner

MUST retain ownership of the mine and have access to trade routes;
WANTS to continue to hire local labor and be involved in the community;
WOULD LIKE to continue to use unsafe mining techniques;
IS WILLING to allow some government involvement.

Faction Three: Government

MUST have unified nation and enough oversight over mine to prevent another civil war;
WANTS to run mine, or have control over security, inspections, and environmental protection;
WOULD LIKE control over a portion of the work force, and to bring in foreign labor;
IS WILLING to give away some farmland.

The simulation took 2 weeks, and involved a variety of interesting compromises. There were many different voices in the group and our mediator had to really keep people on task. However, a settlement was agreed and voted on. The indigenous people were given new land. The mine owner kept the profits but allowed the government in for inspections. The government and the mine owner agreed to construct and maintain a train line through the indigenous peoples' new land to have access to trade routes. The mine owner did have to clean up his act and stop polluting without any protective measures.

-- Angie

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