Will climate negotiations manage to overcome the curse of unfulfilled expectations at COP21?

International negotiations are fundamentally nested games of expectations management. If the objectives are set too high and negotiations then fail to deliver, it would be quite difficult for the relevant parties to re-build momentum for another round (see the case of UNFCCC negotiations after COP15 in Copenhagen). If expectations are set too low, then there is the risk for the negotiations not to be taken seriously, either by the parties or the public or by both. Finding the right balance of expectations during a negotiation process is more an art than a science, not least because, as Kahneman and Tversky (1979) famously demonstrated, people have an irrational tendency to be less willing to

Secret Diplomacy and the "Dirty Hand" problem

The classical “dirty hand” problem in political theory, which involves the choice between two morally challenging “evils”, sums up well the ethical puzzle of secret diplomacy: the lesser evil choice (the practice of deception) remains morally disagreeable even if it is judged to be politically necessary for avoiding a greater evil (e.g., potential military conflict). Arguably, “dirty hand” decisions are much easier to make when the distinction between the two “evils” is clear-cut. However, such clarity of purpose is rarely available in practice. On the one hand, secret diplomacy, which I refer here as the method of conducting international negotiations without public scrutiny, may generate u

Did social media break new ground at G20 in Turkey?

High-level diplomatic meetings such the G20 are not particular known for driving up public enthusiasm about global governance issues, but social media promises to change this impression, partly by cutting thorough the woodenness of official communiques and press releases, and partly by offering the public the possibility to actually take part and even shape the discussion. In order to test these two propositions I use the Twitter hashtag search engine offered Hashtagify to find out what topics animate the conversation at the G20 summit in Antalya on Nov 17, 2015. The search engine allows me to grasp the range of topics under discussion (as identified by their hashtag designations), the popul

Keeping the Arctic ‘cold’: the rise of plurilateral diplomacy?

The Arctic region is undergoing significant climatic transformations, which have the potential to fuel major diplomatic tensions among regional actors over natural resources, freedom of navigation, and fishery management. At the heart of the issue lies a triple governance gap: the Arctic Council, the eight-member intergovernmental body that promotes cooperation in the region, lacks the institutional authority to address the growing challenges; the legal framework that covers Arctic matters is weak; and there is little political commitment among AC members to extend the body’s legal mandate or strengthen its institutional structure. Conventional methods of addressing global governance gaps –

Prof. Corneliu Bjola

I'm an Oxford scholar seeking to make sense of "unknown unknowns" in international diplomacy, a data viz. aficionado, and an unrepentant Big Lebowski fan ("lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-you's..").

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