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Multilateral Political Negotiations By Mühlen 2010 And The Connection With Brexit

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What is Multilaterality?

What does Multilaterality means is easy to explain by its dictionary meaning, involving more than one parties, groups or countries, which is in a multilateral manner; so as to affect many parties or governments; “they worked out an agreement unilaterally”.

Explaining what Multilaterality actually is and how it works is far more challenging than it looks. Even the writer of the paper Mühlen says, for a long time Multilaterality in the international context was “the great unknown of negotiating”. (P: 83, 1st Par.) He further explains that for the experienced negotiators bilaterally interaction is easier than the Multilaterality and calls it an “advanced art requiring a high level of craftmanship”. (P: 83, 2nd Par.)

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Consensus vs. Majority

These two different approaches of agreements are fundamentally different than each other. Consensus is based on the apparent consent of all protagonists, everybody must enter into a dialogue with everybody else. Every side should get some part of their want and agree as a whole on the negotiation. Consensus might leave all parties equally unhappy. Majority vote for agreement is almost always controversial, because of the fact that minority vote might be 49% which is not as minor as the wording suggests. While the majority of the party takes all, the minority has to settle with what is left-over for them in the agreement. The percentage of the majority votes are correlated with the satisfaction of the parties, if the percantages are apart from each other then the satisfaction will be higher in the parties.

Mühlen says “confronting the other side in a debate and competing for the neutral vote are equally important” (P. 86 Left Side) He suggests that the three-step approach confrontational – competitive- cooperative will facilitate their description. A number of delegations will side with some of who have close interest, although this alliance won’t last for long because after the agreement of these two or more parties, they will collide with each other because of their different wants and agendas.

Mixed Systems

One of the mixed system is if the majority can’t be maintained then the consensus is the only option. As Mühlen said “reaching a consensus is a chairperson’s and to some extent also the participants’ highest priority. Most of the time, they negotiate with all their might until they reach this goal” ( P:120 1st Par.)

Methods of Finding a Consensus

  1. Addition
  2. Participants may add elements to the text that do not cause inconvenience to others

  3. Subtraction
  4. Elements that inconvenience others are scrapped

  5. Substantial Compromise

There is negotiation according to bilateral rules


What is Brexit?

The UK has voted to leave the European Union. Both organizations has failed to find a common ground to work on. They have achieved a three-part divorce, which includes how much UK owes to Europe, Northern Ireland border problem and both citizens of the said goverments people who live in each others countries. Now they are trying to mend the future relations

Why did it happen?

A referendum was held to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. “Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.”

The reason for Britain to leave was there were too many rules which hurt the business in UK, the membership fees were too much for UK to handle as well. UK wanted to make his own laws and be at his own instead of being a part of the union.

Immigration led the decision to be made as well. Brexit supporters wanted UK to control its borders and reduce the immigration itself.

What will follow?

UK will follow its own agenda, by leaving the Single Market regulatory system. Free trade system helps the reduction of consumer prices and competition. Free trade system is far more eligible for UK.

First, what is the demand made in Brexit? I suggest that it consists of democratic control of:

  • laws and regulations concerning UK life, Single Market regulations would be abolished
  • migration from EU countries; “there would be a green card system based on skill requirements to govern immigration and unskilled EU immigration would only be permitted if consistent with this”.


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