The strategic use of normative arguments in international negotiations

Gadi Heimann*, Lior Herman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article claims that normative arguments play a greater role in negotiations than existing scholarship implies. While the approaches of communicative and rhetorical action limit the use of arguments to environments that meet certain conditions, in fact normative arguments are widely used and can be found in almost every example of negotiations. This article seeks to explain this phenomenon. Negotiating parties that feel obligated to tackle normative arguments raised by the opposing side – either because of the presence of an audience or to maintain its reputation – have a number of tools at their disposal. Negotiators who are unsuccessful in tackling these arguments will tend to offer a proposal that is more attractive to the other side. Although normative arguments do not generally have a sweeping influence on the outcome of negotiations, they are still likely to play a significant role. The article applies this theoretical framework to the case of the lengthy negotiations between the EEC and Israel, in which the former had no material motivation and desire to cede to Israel’s demands and nevertheless did so.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)47-68
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • European community
  • Israel
  • communicative action
  • normative arguments
  • rhetorical action
  • trade negotiations


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