Collaborative Divorce and Middle East Diplomacy

by Barbara Brown, CFLS
Brown and Brown, San Diego

What does Collaborative Divorce have in common with the Camp David Summit that led to the Israeli-Egyptian Peace treaty in 1978 and the successful release of American hostages from Iran in 1981?

Both the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and the Iranian hostage release employed the technique of “principled negotiation,” a technique developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project led by Roger Fisher and taught in a workshop for lawyers at Harvard University.  Principled negotiation is a technique basic to Collaborative law as well.

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the Harvard Negotiation workshop. It was truly a life changing experience that gave me a new perspective on negotiating fair agreements both efficiently and amicably.
Getting to Yes
Roger Fisher, who helped negotiate the Israeli-Egyptian Peace treaty and the release of the American hostages from Iran, taught me that all successful negotiations are interest based.  As he described it in his best selling book “Getting to Yes,” “Principled negotiation is hard on the merits, soft on the people.  It employs no tricks and no posturing. Principled negotiation shows you how to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent.”

Years later, when I trained in Collaborative Divorce, I would recognize this negotiation technique as basic to the concept of Collaborative Divorce.

Fisher and his co-author William Ury explained that their book started with this question: “What is the best way for people to deal with their differences? For example, what is the best advice one could give a husband and wife getting divorced who want to know how to reach a fair and mutually satisfactory agreement without ending up in a bitter fight?”  Because the book was published before the advent of collaborative law, they didn’t know the answer then. Now we know the best advice is to consider choosing the collaborative process to achieve these ends.



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