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Three Stages of Consensus

Consensus building involves informal, face-to-face
interaction among representatives of stakeholding
groups. It aims for "mutual gain" solutions, rather than
win-lose or lowest common denominator outcomes.
Consensus building approaches are broadly applicable in
all parts of the world and to the full range of
international issues. Conflicts in the international arena
involve multiple parties— nations, private actors, and
NGOs. Consensus building is a three stage process:

• The first stage requires the parties to prepare

appropriately for face-to-face negotiation.
Facilitators or mediators can do a lot to assist
parties in their internal (i.e. team) negotiations.
They can also help to "map the conflict" and
suggest ground rules to guide negotiations.
• The second stage involves face-to-face problem
solving, often assisted by a facilitator or a
mediator. Whether the parties have interacted
before, or not, face-to-face dialogue involves both
"value creation" and "value distribution."
• The third stage involves planning for
implementation of whatever agreements have
been worked out. No matter what has been
negotiated, the consensus building process isn't
over until everyone has lived up to their
commitments. Unexpected events can undermine
even the most "iron clad" agreements and require
re-negotiation, monitoring, or other forms of on-
going interaction.

Source: Concensus-Building Institute - www.cbuilding.org

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