The overall aim of this thesis has been to examine how the Norwegian Ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) in cooperation with Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) has contributed to preventive conflict resolution through dialogues and negotiations between parties in a possible future conflict situation. The Norwegian involvement in the current peace process between Haiti and the Dominican Republic has constituted the basic case study of this project.
The conflict between Haiti and the Dominican Republic can be described and subsequently explained in light of four major issues. First, the political instability and the economic decline over the past decades in Haiti are important in understanding the large scale migration towards the Dominican Republic. The failure of boosting the economy along with the political crisis stemming from the fraudulent legislative elections in 2000 has created severe political instability on Haiti. The political instability and the economic situation have been major causes for the large scale migration from Haiti towards the Dominican Republic, as I define as the second source of conflict. As the economic disparities between the two countries have continued to grow, more and more Haitians are willing to leave behind their home in search for employment in the Dominican Republic. The Haitians working in the Dominican Republic face poor working conditions, with low payment and long hours, and they are under constant threat of being deported home to their country of origin by the Dominican authorities. This deportation of Haitians has been, and still is, a source of conflict between the two countries. Third, the smuggling of groceries, drugs and weapons at the border has been a source of conflict between the two countries. Fourth, the antihaitianismo that exists in the Dominican Republic is a source of conflict. The antihaitianismo has consequences both for the Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic, as well as for the Haitian-Dominican relationship. Many Dominicans tends to demonize Haitians and associate them with destructive power and hence danger due to their religious believes in voodoo.
As a result of the Norwegian initiated process, three working documents were signed in Oslo between representatives of civil society organizations from the two countries in 2001 and 2002. In these agreements the parties agreed on further cooperation on the main issues, such as human rights, migration and deportation problems, border issues and economic relations. MFA, in cooperation with NCA, has played a vital role as a third party in facilitating this process. As a result of this process, personal relations across the border has developed, new perspectives on how to solve the conflicting issues have come up and local initiatives to improve the situation have been taken.
The theoretical framework that has been elaborated to analyse the Norwegian involvement draws on contributions focusing on the third party role in peace negotiations. A third party may be an important actor in a negotiation process and I argue that the success of a third party depends on both their nature and the strategy they employ. Their nature may be defined in relation to three variables; degree of neutrality, legitimacy and previous relations with the conflicting parties.
Second, the problem-solving approach to negotiations constitutes the theoretical basis that was employed to analyze the progress in the Oslo Dialogue between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. My starting point was a game theoretic approach to negotiations. This, I have combined with the problem-solving approach and I argue that the two theoretical contributions may, in combination, be used to explain the Norwegian involvement on Hispaniola. Another main issue that has been discussed is how to overcome barriers to negotiate. Three different barriers; the exaggeration of the extent to which interests conflict, the reluctance to move first and the imposition of conditions to begin negotiations, have been discussed in light of the Norwegian involvement on Hispaniola.
The following research question was explored to guide the analysis of MFA and NCA’s role in their peacemaking efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic:
Why has the Norwegian MFA in cooperation with NCA achieved success as a third party in the dialogue between Haiti and the Dominican Republic?
I have argued that this is the case primarily because Norway is regarded as a neutral actor by both conflicting parties, and that there exist trust and confidence between the participants in the Oslo Dialogue and the Norwegian representatives. Second, I have argued that the Norwegian strategy as a facilitator for negotiations has been advantageous. Third, I have argued that promoting leaders from the civil society to take responsibility for the peace process has been important, as they interact with both actors in the political sphere as well as enjoying legitimacy on the grassroot level. Furthermore, I have argued that promoting civil society leaders has been important as there has been a lack of political interest to solve the problems, because both countries’ governments profit from the large scale migration from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. Fourth, the use of a problem-solving approach to the negotiations has proved to be fruitful. Within this approach, the parties to a conflict are encourage to not view each other as adversaries negotiating against one another, but rather to interpret the situation as one in which they have a common problem that needs to be overcome by taking joint decisions. I argue that this approach can best be used to explain the progress in the Oslo Dialogue and that this approach has proved to be efficient. Also important is the long term perspective on the Norwegian involvement. This is first and foremost because of the complexity in the conflict, but also because the conflict is deeply ingrained in the two societies.