For plot reasons I need a country that will always negotiate with foreign delegations using open door policy. The media can watch and record the negotiations but they can't participate.

Is there a plausible way to explain this besides something like this is our custom or similar excuse?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you looking for circumstances under which this would be a legitimate strategy (something like high degree of education of the general population comes to mind) or are you looking for ways this could've evolved historically (for example because one "closed door" negotiation went super wrong)? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jun 22 '17 at 7:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Bellerophon That would work only for a while :( pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7974/… $\endgroup$ – Dajanon Jun 22 '17 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ It only has to last enough that people get used to it and then don't want to change back. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Jun 22 '17 at 9:42
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    $\begingroup$ Please wait at least 24 hours before Accepting an answer. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jun 22 '17 at 12:15
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    $\begingroup$ One problem I foresee for your scenario is that there's a difference between every meeting being open and every meeting actually getting any public attention. Journalists and interested parties simply aren't going to bother attending every available meeting; there are just too many of them, and a lot of them are mind-numbingly dull. Even if you wanted to cherry-pick the good ones, it's not always going to be clear in advance which meetings are going to be significant. $\endgroup$ – Simba Jun 22 '17 at 15:11

Internal politics.

There was a period where the politicians made bigger and bigger messes and the voters grew more and more impatient with them. It seemed like everybody was corrupt.

A new party called the Openness Party appears. They have a charismatic leader and win votes with a simple promise: "No more secrets!" It starts as a local party and wins the mayor's seat in a city.

And they deliver. As the months go the city administration becomes more and more open. A number of corrupt city employees are discovered and punished.

A major pollution problem is stopped when BigCorp can no longer bribe people to look the other way.

The city budget improves as politicians can no longer attend "meetings" in faraway luxury resorts. The Parking Authority's private golf course is opened to the public.

Riding a storm of public approval the Openness Party enters national politics and wins again.

After a few years almost every aspect of the government is open to inspection by the media or by anybody who cares to do so.

There are very few remaining secrets, all of them military in nature.

When they meet foreign diplomats, of course they will invite media. Why not?

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is very plausible, and I believe that when people get used to it voters will demand the same even when the ruling party changes. $\endgroup$ – Dajanon Jun 22 '17 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ The only concern is that those countries they meet with may balk at doing things openly, and even when your slogan is no more secrets making an exception for another country you want to work with seems... about equally valid and likely as making an exception for the military. $\endgroup$ – KRyan Jun 22 '17 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ A plausible start, but you need some rationale as to why a thoroughly corrupt national level of politicians does not frame, discredit, even assassinate the leaders of the Openness Party that threaten their kleptocracy. Never forget that violence really does work in these situations and the primary beneficiaries of the corrupt system will fight, violently and illegally and without conscience, to preserve their grip on the halls of power and the public purse making them all wealthy. They will not go down without a fight and an utter lack of principles or morals can give them an advantage. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 22 '17 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ I think after five years of the 'Openness Party' they will slowly transform and start keeping 'just a few' secrets. Twenty years on and you're back where we are now. I think this is a good start, but just needs some plausible way to maintain it. $\endgroup$ – sdfgeoff Jun 22 '17 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ It's also worth mentioning that when real repressive states have enacted policies like this it's been a recipe for social unrest, as citizens wake up to both the extent of the corruption and their ability to create change, and they use their newfound freedoms to create outright regime change. A fresh, new, idealistic government following in the wake of, or breaking out of a radical wing of, the openness party might be a good rational for applying such a policy across the board. $\endgroup$ – Era Jun 22 '17 at 22:53

A plausible reason would be a Near Death Experience, for the country itself, such that secret negotiations and the corruption that naturally goes with it destroyed them economically and caused a major coup attempt that nearly turned them into a dictatorship. In the shooting war that followed to prevent this political disaster on top of an already devastating financial disaster that left them in a great depression, the government was reformed, as for the people.

Part of that reformation was absolute public meetings, there are laws in place so if any politician meets with any other in private, both are guilty of a serious crime (mandatory sentencing of 3 years in prison, forfeiture of 100% of assets, and barred from politics for life). The people created a policing organization, the Congressional Collusion Investigation and Prosecuting Force (CCIPF), and they have draconian power to enforce it:

Politicians cannot be friends with each other and make deals on the golf course, they will go to jail. The standard of proof is simply "preponderance of evidence"; the lowest bar (in the USA) for a conviction.

Why would anybody become a politician? It pays very well, as much as, say, a surgeon. Plus half that amount for life after holding office; because they will also be prohibited for life from taking any other paid job or form of income, once elected. While holding office they get CCIPF bodyguards, they travel, they decide matters of national importance. They can have family and friends, they just have to be careful. But one of their official roles is campaigning, arguing for or against laws in the media, etc. Their CCIPF bodyguards are assigned and cycled at random; and also carry 24/7 recording equipment, the recordings are open to the public, and can be used in either prosecution or defense of any charges of collusion (e.g. accidentally shaking hands with another politician at a wedding is not collusion.) And CCIPF officers can wear GPS trackers when on the job, so they can all have electronic proximity alerts if any other CCIPF officers, assigned to any other politician, are anywhere near their charge. Communications could let them negotiate sufficient buffer space (or alertness) to keep them separated.

The CCIPF will give them fair warning if anybody new in their life has political ties, or anybody already in their life develops new political ties. An honorable politician can make an upper class living for life, the job is relatively easy, and there will be no shortage of candidates.

The CCIPF is similarly constrained: Investigations of politicians are publicly assigned to the CCIPF officers by lottery; and their own lives must be an open book, too. They can never, ever be politicians or involved in politics themselves; joining the CCIPF, even for six months, bars them for life from holding any elected or governmental office or even participating in a campaign or advocating for a particular politician, bill, or scheme. They cannot express an opinion between pro-choice or pro-life; they have no political free speech. They are allowed to vote, in secret, but revealing their vote is a crime. Every dime they earn or spend is recorded and public knowledge.

Further, the CCIPF is funded independently by their own tax which politicians cannot touch, short of a complete rewrite of their Constitution.

Further, the CCIPF itself is incapable of making any law or rule for the citizenry. It has its own court system with CCIPF judges, also assigned by lottery; and trials and evidence for collusion between politicians are public and the jury deliberations are open and recorded.

Who enforces the laws against the CCIPF? The CCIPF; they are organized into a dozen independent bases in the country (like military bases). New recruits are assigned at random to one of these. Charges against CCIPF members are given a trial by CCIPF judges chosen at random from another base with a jury of their peers; one from each base. Other rules like that; like the USA military, the CCIPF is its own sub-culture, a semi-democracy with its own courts and rules about how to conduct itself.

Make the country's wounds fresh, this all happened, say, 150 years ago, and people still honor the names of their relatives that fought and died to create the CCIPF. There are multiple national holidays celebrating various milestones in that "War On Corruption", statues to the heroes and first generals of the CCIPF, the first fallen in the name of Honest Government, and so on.

That is the "social element", the CCIPF is seen like soldiers: Heroic, self-sacrificing, and utterly honorable; they are trusted because the structure leaves little reason to doubt them. Our soldiers protect us from foreign threats, the CCIPF protects us from being taken over by our own mentally ill citizens that have no conscience and seek only self-enrichment and megalomaniacal power, fame, and being feared.

Even if politicians truly believe the open negotiation law is stupid and crippling, they do not violate it, they learn to work within these constraints because they have a good life if they stay within them, and there is too much to lose and not enough to gain by violating them. The uncontrollably greedy or megalomaniacs best not apply, they can exercise those traits in the corporate world. Politicians will be people happy with the generous salary, retirement, and other perks of being in the top management tier of the country.


Media Leaks.

The country has a very large bureaucracy, with hundreds of individuals directly involved in negotiations, and thousands indirectly. It only takes one individual out of these hundred to leak a draft trade deal to the media, who will exaggerate and distort anything the public might find controversial. The leakers are motivated by money, politics, and don't fear releasing confidential information as they know they're very unlikely to be caught and prosecuted.

After several high profile, secret negotiations being torpedoed by the court of public opinion, the country decides that action must be taken. However, it's not possible to reduce the number of individuals with access to this confidential information. Officials from various government departments require individual representatives, due to the complex nature of the talks. Additionally, there are many devolved regional governments, who all want a say in the negotiations.

The information is going to leak, so why not control it on their terms, by televising all talks with foreign entities? The country can no longer be accused of making back room deals, and any aggressive tactics from foreign negotiators risk causing a diplomatic incident.

Additionally the negotiating position of the country is now strengthened, as the public expects that red lines must not be crossed, and that the initially stated goals must be achieved. And of course, the whole thing is portrayed as a great victory for democracy and open government, rather than a cynical attempt at damage limitation.


In an age of ever-increasing social media and connection, a "true" Democracy might not even have a formal government. All decisions are reached by a vote; all "mature" (above some arbitrary age, or having some basic scholastic diploma) citizens can vote. Votes are done "in real time" for urgent issues, or within a "reasonable" timeframe (whatever that means) for less urgent issues.

A diplomat would have to provide open negotiations observed by the media... because that's the only way the citizens could vote on whether or not to accept any treaties proposed.


One way to force this would be if (media) corporations had proportionally more power then they do here. If you try and rule the world it makes sense you want to at least know what's being said.

Perhaps they lack to power to force a chair at the table. Maybe they don't wish to be so public about it. So the representatives are puppets and the journalists are those who make sure the right things are said.

Now you might not want to do this to overtly so using the media broadcasts as cover isn't a terrible either. Alternatively you might want to force a narrative to your viewers. Show them the government is acting in their interest and not the filthy foreigners.

Not trying to make a political point but imagine Fox News or Breitbart pulled into the extremes. They could create a narrative where the public is highly skeptical of an part of the government not actively endorsed in the media.

As for how media corporations could gain so much power. Look at how elections are run these days. If you could control the narrative you can guide the voting public. Maybe the privacy laws aren't as good as ours. Maybe they got all they need to blackmail certain people in power.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd argue the opposite is true. I would argue that if media would have less power or less willing to use their power for their own personal agenda, open door negotiations would be more viable. If we have influential media, nobody would want to speak publicly anymore before preparing very word carefully. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jun 22 '17 at 9:26


Imagine a Cold War type situation, two powerful rival nations at odds with each other, but not quite at the point of open fighting. Imagine a long, heavily fortified shared border between them - though at some point, that border is interrupted, with a much smaller, neutral, less powerful nation squeezed in between them. Our hypothetical smaller nation has favorable geography, perhaps easily fortified, mountainous terrain - such that if one of the larger nations were to occupy it, it would grant a significant strategic advantage.

Luckily for our smaller nation, neither superpower is quite willing to attempt an invasion - they and their rival are evenly matched enough that any war fought over this nation would be costly, and it's outcome uncertain. And besides, being the first one to attack this neutral nation would drive them to align with the other superpower - in short, neither side is willing to invade to gain control of the smaller nation, because the status quo is preferable to the risk of their rival gaining that strategic advantage.

That doesn't mean, of course, that the superpowers are happy with the status quo - both of them have, in the past, quietly sent envoys to try and convince the smaller nation to come over to their side willingly. If they did, however, it would surely leave the other superpower feeling as though they had no choice but to attack, rather than allow the balance of power to be upended.

As such, the smaller nation has steadfastly remained neutral... but in several cases, rumors and misinterpreted intelligence have pushed things to the very brink of war. Every time one superpower's envoy makes a quiet visit, the other side masses more troops at the border. Not wanting to risk being overrun based on a misunderstanding, the smaller nation puts their foot down and declares that they will no longer conduct any diplomatic meetings in secret. Both superpowers are welcome to continue sending their diplomats, but in order to avoid any misunderstanding or misinformation, the meetings with them will be entirely public and open.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding OversizedHat! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Jun 23 '17 at 7:14

Modern technology

The country in question is a few decades more advanced than we are currently, such that ubiquitous minute insect-robots with recording devices, ultra-sensitive laser audio recording and nanotechnology make holding secret negotiations basically impossible. To avoid conflicting interpretations and recordings as well as public mistrust, and as part of a culture where citizens are already increasingly recording and broadcasting their everyday movements to the cloud (think Black Mirror), it is a natural progression to have all diplomatic and political negotiations made public.

A decade later however, a scandalous case reveals a politician using their cyborg implants to conduct encrypted negoatiations wirelessly. How much of this diplomatic theatre was actually a sham?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding 8DX! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Jun 23 '17 at 13:21

I cannot think of a way, realistically, that a country would use open negotiations. The reason is that countries can have conflicting interests and compete over resources.

Country A uses open negotiations.
Counties B and C are rivals with respect to a certain resource X.
A needs something from B
A needs something from C

Now if A helps B or C get X, the other will not take it kindly and may withhold what A needs. This is not good for A's citizenry. Further, if A chooses sides (say, chooses B), then it could mean war between B and C, and suck in A because of the needed resource that C possesses.

The above is not hypothetical. That's what negotiations are about - avoiding a mess when people vie for scarce resources.

So it would seem for open negotiations to work there must be no scarce resource involving a 3rd party. For example, in the example above, what if X were suddenly abundant. Now A could openly negotiate with B and C and not cause any strive at all.

Another way would be for A to be a self-sufficient resource-abundant amoral super-power. Trading partners are unhappy? Who cares, we are self-sufficient. They're going to attack us to get a resource? Let them come, our might is unparalleled. Or we'll shower resources onto their barbaric rivals and let them do the dirty work in a very nasty and permanent way.

What is often forgotten is what while an actor might be evolved and enlightened, other actors are not necessarily so. For example, would you treat France the same way you treat North Korea? I don't think so. So even the most enlightened country must take into account the barbaric nature of its neighbors.

Regarding corruption... corruption does not happen at the negotiation table. It happens before the negotiation. Open Negotiations would not help. For example, many years ago, Japan was importing into the USA a certain car. The import tariff was applied in several stages, with the specific tariffs being dependent upon the type of vehicle. So Japan lobbied such that the vehicle would be reclassified depending upon the stage, in order to avoid paying as many import tariffs. For a small amount of money (paid to lobbyists, ostensibly), they netted a HUGE payback. If anyone needed to be bribed, it would have happened away from the table.


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