Partnership refers to cooperation and good working relationships between the host facilitation team and the relevant international secretariat. While the facilitation team has final responsibility for the process, the two teams depend on each other for their optimal functioning and effective management of the negotiation process.
Host facilitation teams typically occupy the role for a limited period of time, while simultaneously holding parallel positions in their home country. The secretariat’s permanent nature endows them with expertise and experience in the negotiation process that can fill the knowledge gap and provide valuable input for a facilitation team. A close and effective working relationship between the two teams adds to a positive dynamic that is more conducive to the reaching of agreement. Secretariats can provide host facilitation teams with support and advice on both procedural organisation (for example, planning and logistics and how to wield the rules of procedure) and substantive input (for example, drafting text and suggesting compromise proposals).
When the two teams are not aligned, neither will be able to perform their role to its fullest potential and the overall effectiveness of the process will be compromised. Clashes between individuals or between the two teams can sour the negotiation dynamics, making agreement less likely.
Barriers that prevent an effective partnership include:
Disagreements and rivalry: the two teams may disagree over the correct way forwards. Clashes or rivalries may result from differences between individual personalities, or out of competition for the considerable publicity that comes with the negotiations.
Communication channels: poor communication between the host facilitation team and the international secretariat or a lack of effective procedures can inhibit a successful working relationship and the flow of important information.
Role confusion: the secretariat may overstep its advisory role and take over the facilitation team’s leadership role.