The objective of this section is to provide a framework for the colleagues of the frontline negotiator to assist and support the development of the negotiation strategies and tactics.
Frontline negotiation is understood across the humanitarian community as a relational undertaking involving the humanitarian negotiator and his/her counterpart(s) in a search for common grounds to ensure the provision of essential assistance and protection to populations in need. The relational character of this activity is seen by practitioners as a core element in building trust between individuals and organizations in situations of armed conflict and violence. Building on their personal connection, negotiators on both sides are able to ascertain their shared interests to drive the negotiation process forward.
One side effect of this personalization of the relationship is that decisions on the orientation of the negotiation process are often made primarily by those negotiators involved at a personal level. Humanitarian negotiations can easily turn into private dealings if the process is not integrated into a professional and critical endeavour, as the scope of interests and the stakes at play are usually much larger and more far-reaching than the ones envisaged by the individuals in their relationships. The larger picture may have considerable implications in terms of the lives and dignity of thousands of people, as well as the reputation, safety, and security of a whole organization.