The Adjusted Winner procedure and civil war negotiations

Jan 2004 – Dec 2004

Cand. Polit Thesis in Political Science, University of Oslo. Application of the Adjusted Winner procedure to the negotiations on wealth sharing in Sudan. What preconditions have to be met for an application of the Adjusted Winner procedure to civil war negotiations?

Brams and Taylor (1996) have developed a dispute resolution mechanism, the procedure of Adjusted Winner (AW), which they claim will produce solutions that are envy-free, efficient and equitable.[1] Given these properties of fairness, the AW procedure may, if applied to civil war conflicts, provide parties with solutions that are acceptable at the negotiating table and are robust settlements in regard to implementation.

In this thesis the preconditions of applying the AW procedure to civil war negotiations are identified through various investigations. First, a theoretical investigation is carried out by using theory on conflict resolution and bargaining to discuss assumptions of applying the AW procedure to civil war negotiations. Second, an empirical investigation is conducted into the negotiations on wealth sharing between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army / Movement (SPLA/M) in the recent IGAD talks of making peace in Sudan. Third, the AW procedure is applied hypothetically to the issues of wealth sharing of the IGAD talks.

The preconditions for applying the AW procedure to civil war negotiations are related to the issues at stake, the parties at the negotiation table, the mediators and the aspect of implementing the deal. For instance must the mediators be able to demonstrate for the parties that the AW procedure guarantees them a favorable settlement and be trusted by the parties so they are willing to reveal their preferences. The precondition of defining what winning and sharing shall entail on each issue is especially problematized in the thesis. The process of defining what winning and sharing will imply on each issue decides to a great extent what outcomes can be produced by the AW procedure and to what extent the parties are likely to consider the outcomes as fair. 

[1] Brams and Taylor (1996: 2, 68-75, 241) define “envy-freeness” as a property of a solution where “every part thinks he or she received the largest or most valuable portion of something – based on his or her own valuation – and hence does not envy anyone else”. Equitability they define as a property of settlement where each part “thinks that the portion he or she receives is worth the same, in terms of his or her valuation, as the portion that the other player receives in terms of that player’s valuation”. A settlement is “efficient” (Pareto-optimal) if there is “no other allocation that is strictly better for at least one player and as good for all the others”.

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