On Fair Terms: The Ethics of Peace Negotiations and Mediation (FAIR)

On Fair Terms: The Ethics of Peace Negotiations and Mediation (FAIR)
Led by Kristoffer Lidén
Jul 2020 - Dec 2023

What difference do debates about ethics and philosophy make for on-the-ground peace negotiations?

Discussions about ethics and philosophy can sometimes feel far removed from the concrete needs of diplomats and negotiators in high-pressure mediations. However, policies and mandates – whether they come from the United Nations or individual governments – often lack cohesiveness, and this leads to both ethical and practical problems.

Furthermore, the policies and mandates can work against one another when they are not grounded in a shared understanding of what constitutes fairness, and to whom those policies and mandates are to be considered fair. This can have direct consequences for the success and legitimacy of peace negotiations.

This raises the question: What makes peace negotiations fair?

The FAIR project is the first systematic investigation of ethical problems and solutions in peace negotiations and peace mediation. The project engages with existing debates on norms in peace negotiations and explores relevant philosophical perspectives.

The project will not conclude on the right ways of doing negotiations or mediation but develops a conceptual and philosophical framework for how to think normatively about negotiations or mediation in research, practice and public debate.

The project is divided into four complementary research components:

  • an overview of the field, setting the agenda through a book project and journal special section,
  • a set of case studies of normative controversies,
  • expert consultations on ethical principles for negotiations, and
  • philosophical analyses of justice in peace negotiations and mediation.

Kristoffer Lidén leads the project in cooperation with Henrik Syse


The project involves an international expert group and partners with:

  • Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Ghana
  • Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Indonesia
  • Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), and the NUPI-led Efficiency of Peace Operations Network (EPON)

The FAIR project is funded by the Research Council of Norway, grant nr. 303344.


Book Chapter

Lidén, Kristoffer (2021) The Ethics of Liberal Peacebuilding, in Richmond, Oliver P.; & Gëzim Visoka, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Peacebuilding, Statebuilding, and Peace Formation. Oxford: Oxford University Press (42–58).

PRIO Report

Stamnes, Eli; & Cedric de Coning (2022) The Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), FAIR Case Brief, 6. Oslo: PRIO.
Reichberg, Gregory M.; & Eric Stollenwerk (2022) Trust and Fairness: Ethical Dilemmas in the Iran Nuclear (JCPOA) Negotiations, FAIR Case Brief, 8. Oslo: PRIO.
Jensehaugen, Jørgen (2022) Excluded Palestinians: Mediator Gatekeeping in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict, FAIR Case Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Lorentzen, Jenny (2021) Malian Women’s Participation in the Algiers Negotiations, FAIR Case Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.

Master Thesis

Matthaei, Lea Kirsten (2023) Ethics in Peace Negotiations: Roles and Considerations According to Experts. MA thesis, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society.

Conference Paper

Lidén, Kristoffer (2018) Contested imaginations of peace: justice, truth and power in the ethics of peace agreements, presented at Peace Operations and Peace Agreements: Experiences from the Global South, PUC Rio, Brazil, 28 May.

PRIO Policy Brief

Jensehaugen, Jørgen; Kristoffer Lidén & Isabel Bramsen (2022) At the Gates to Peace: Mediators as Gatekeepers, PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.


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