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Commentary: The Role of Agents in International Negotiation
Commentary: The role of agents in international negotiation
Bruce M.Patton

In her chapter on international agents, Eileen Babbitt notes four challenges for such agents: multiple principals, shifting mandates, multiple agents, and role conflicts. The first challenge is that international agents often represent amorphous or multiheaded constituencies that may be incapable of offering or maintaining clear and sensible directions. The second challenge is often a consequence of the first: mandates that change with shifts in home politics. The third challenge, multiple agents, is likewise related to the complexity of the principal: Discrete interest groups among the home constituency may empower their own agents, crowding the field and often pursuing divergent and even conflicting agendas.

The fourth challenge, as Babbitt describes it, ...

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