Peace Talks and Valid Spokespersons: Explaining the Onset of Negotiations in Southern Thailand

In: International Negotiation
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  • 1 Stockholm School of Economics, Sveavagen 65, 113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2 Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Box 514, S-751 20, Uppsala, Sweden

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Abstract

There have been several attempts to find negotiated solutions to the armed conflicts in Southern Thailand. Yet, these attempts of accommodation and mediated peace negotiations were aborted without any concrete results, with the exception of a formal peace process being officially launched in 2013. What explains the readiness of the parties to the conflict to enter negotiations at this stage, but not at earlier attempts? We argue that the political context can help to explain why some negotiation attempts result in negotiations, whereas others do not. We analyze the factors behind the readiness of the two sides – the Thai state and the Patani separatist insurgency – to sit down for official peace negotiations, focusing on the presence of valid spokespersons, which is an understudied element of ‘ripeness’. This case demonstrates that the problem of finding valid spokespersons may be an obstacle for peace processes especially in religiously defined conflicts.

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