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  • kai peter stabell

Beyond Zartman's Conflict Theory on Ripeness

Ripeness is a concept that has been studied and discussed extensively ever since Zartman introduced it in the 1980s. In the simplest of terms, ripeness is a condition that needs to exist for negotiations to begin and for resolution to happen. It is an important concept, especially when it comes to conflict management and resolution. But what does it really mean? Let’s take a closer look at this concept to better understand its implications.



A Closer Look at the Concept of Ripeness

Ripeness is defined as “the moment when all parties involved believe that they are ready to negotiate, and all conditions necessary for agreement have been met” (Zartman & Berman, 1985). This definition implies that ripeness should be assessed both objectively (by looking at external factors) and subjectively (by looking at the feelings of the parties involved).


Objectively speaking, ripeness is determined by considering factors such as whether there is a clear agenda for the negotiation, whether there is an understanding of key issues or interests, whether there has been enough time for preparation, or whether other stakeholders are engaged in the negotiation process. Subjectively speaking, ripeness involves assessing the willingness of all parties involved to negotiate in good faith with each other. They must also be willing to accept any potential compromises or deals that may come out of negotiations. Finally, they must believe that there will be lasting resolution if negotiations come to fruition.


Alvaro de Soto and El Salvador

It was Alvaro de Soto who brought more attention to this concept by using it as part of his mission for peace in El Salvador in 1991. De Soto believed that initiating negotiations between warring factions was not enough; he also had to ensure that those negotiations were going to result in lasting solutions. To do so, he had to determine if both sides were ready—if they were ripe—to negotiate with each other and make meaningful compromises with one another without resorting back into violence (De Soto et al., 1993).


In conclusion, ripeness is an important concept because it helps us assess whether conditions are right for successful negotiations between opposing parties. It requires assessing both external conditions as well as internal feelings among those involved before making any determinations about negotiating potential solutions. This approach was endorsed by Alvaro de Soto during his mission in El Salvador where he used ripeness theory as a tool for successful conflict management and resolution. By understanding how ripeness works, we can better prepare ourselves when attempting conflict resolution in our own lives or workplaces.

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