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Negotiation Skills Training in Bujumbura

As a joint activity with the Shared Vision Program (SVP) Coordination Project, a workshop on negotiation skills was organized from 12 to 16 February 2006 in Bujumbura, Burundi.

A total of 38 individuals participated in the workshop, including the members of the project steering committee, the Nile Technical Advisory Committee (Nile TAC), and legal advisors to the respective ministries responsible for water affairs in the 10 Nile Basin states.

The workshop was part of the project’s legal and institutional component, and focused on negotiation skills for sharing transboundary resources and international water law. Brief theoretic sessions were alternated with simulation exercises and discussions of relevant case studies.

Negotiation was presented as a problem solving process in which two or more parties voluntarily discuss their differences and attempt to reach a joint decision on their common concerns. Emphasis was put on understanding and addressing your counterpart’s problems as a means to solving your own. The workshop built on the approach developed by the Harvard Negotiation Project to focus on interest instead of positions. In a series of exercises, participants were trained to identify issues where parties differ, educate each other about their perspectives, generate possible settlement options, and bargain over the terms of the final agreement.

The workshop also discussed the role of facilitation and mediation. Role play simulations illustrated and practiced the primary role of the facilitator to design and manage the negotiation process, and to assist parties in communicating and working together so that a constructive and well informed outcome can be achieved.

One day was allocated to international water law and the legal issues involved in transferring an agreement into a clear legal text that reflects the outcome of the negotiations.

The workshop was facilitated by the University of British Columbia and Pacific Resolutions from Canada, together with the Development Law Service of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

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