Consensus trap

Other Names:
Consensus as an unreasonable pre-condition for action
Cyclic disassociation from collective commitment
Dissent as an excuse for inaction
Unrealizable multilateral consensus as a justification of inaction
Irresponsible insistence on unanimity

By focusing on points of agreement through the process of consensus, anything controversial is omitted from final agreements or plans of action. Thus consensus produces mediocrity and stagnation.


In 1995, just prior to the IV World Conference on Women (Beijing), it was argued by women's groups that a number of proposals arising from agreements reached at the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), World Population and Development Conference (Cairo 1994) and Social Summit (Copenhagen, 1994), and which are backed by the majority of governments, are at risk of exclusion from the international agenda because they lack universal consensus. Countries blocking such agreements using religious concepts (e.g. Honduras, Guatemala and the Vatican) were particularly singled out as treating the "women question" as secondary.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST