To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
On Thursday afternoon, the ASIL Annual Meeting featured a screening of the documentary “The Agreement,” directed by Karen Stokkendal Poulsen, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Veronika Fikfak of the University of Cambridge.
“The Agreement” captures the first meeting between representatives from Serbia and Kosovo in 2011 since Kosovo’s declaration of independence three years earlier. It is a unique insight into a negotiation process that allowed cameras into the room. The film encapsulates both underlying tensions between the parties as well as amusing moments, largely instigated by British diplomat Robert Cooper, who carefully selected his tie to reflect the mood he hoped to inspire in the negotiation room. (Click here to see the trailer for the documentary).
The three panelists had personal experience of negotiations in Kosovo. Andrew Ladley, Senior Adviser at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, was formerly a Senior Expert Mediator in the Standby Team for the United Nations, deployed in Kosovo, among other locations. Carne Ross, founder of Independent Diplomat, served as Strategy Coordinator for the UN in Kosovo. Marc Weller of the University of Cambridge was a legal advisor on the Kosovo peace process.
The panel discussed how international law and lawyers can help bring parties to the negotiation and drive the peacemaking process. Marc Weller stated that international law is a background and structural factor that sets the conditions as to how negotiations are approached. The panelists also noted situations in which a political position is agreed upon and the agreement is sent to the UN Office of Legal Affairs for last minute comments, placing the legal advisers in a difficult position.
The panelists also shared their views on the strengths and shortfalls of the documentary. Andrew Ladley noted that the film captures realistic techniques of negotiations. For example, in the documentary, we see a last minute attempt to change language—in this case the focus was on whether the word “intergovernmental” was acceptable. Carne Ross expressed concern that the film portrays the parties to the negotiations as “equals.” The film assumes some knowledge of the history of the regions, without which it would be hard to see the discrepancy in resources, negotiation experience, and political power.
The panel concluded by raising interesting questions about whether cameras in the negotiation room influence the discussions for better or for worse. Most agreed that all parties to the negotiation deserve credit for the great deal of trust that it takes to allow outside viewers to gain a glimpse into the negotiation room.
Veronica Glick is an associate in the Washington D.C. office of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.