Got this from a draft speech from a former negotiator in a particular unresolved conflict:
One other blind alley I would advise against heading up, is the idea of negotiating confidence-building measures. Whenever there has been a pause or a setback in the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement, someone comes forward with the idea of negotiating confidence building measures; and they never lead anywhere except to a major diversion of negotiating energy and more friction. The reason is clear. One or the other, or sometimes both, sides believe that the other side is going to get some unrequited benefit out of the measures proposed or that some sensitive aspect of a comprehensive settlement is going to be prejudiced. Far the most successful and beneficial confidence building measure in recent times, [specified], took place without any negotiation at all. Indeed one could wager that, if there had been any attempt made to negotiate [it], it would never have taken place at all. Let us by all means have plenty more of that sort of confidence building but not a return to the failed remedies of the past, which in any case presume a continuation of the status quo rather than an end to it.
A very interesting point – that confidence-building measures are pretty useless as a substitute for real conflict resolution, and can only work in the context of a shared understanding of where the process will end up. In other words, once you’ve sorted out the easy bits, and are left with small difficult bits and large difficult bits, much better to tackle the large difficult bits as that will inevitably also involve sorting the smaller ones.