The impact of Mediation on International Conflict Resolution

Note on how to cite this journal: Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight )

Introduction

The international environment is currently facing several conflicts started and stimulated by different parties for various reasons. The conflicts have endangered the lives and distorted economies in such places. For example, currently, countries like Venezuela, Palestine, Indonesia, Syria, Sudan, Iran, and China vs. United States are facing conflicts today. In most of these countries apart from the China-US (which is a trade war), many people have lost their lives while others seek refuge in neighboring areas due to the hostile conditions that are inhabitable. For that matter, the international communities led by the United Nations (UN) are focused on ensuring peaceful coexistence and interaction in such areas through mediation. The thesis, therefore, seeks to determine the effects of mediation in international conflicts today. 

Strategies in Mediation

The underlying challenge in conflict resolution is defining the most suitable and sufficient mediation process. However, the identification of the best mediation stands a nightmare since conflicts take varying contexts and direction. The strategies that include procedural, communicative, directive, preventative, and apolitical have been applied in attempting to solve the conflicts in the world. In regards to procedural strategy, the peacemaker regulates the timing, agenda, and venues, dispatch of information, and formality of the meetings (Moore, 2014). The main aim is to minimize stress and disruption between the disputants who never has a history of peacemaking.

For instance, between 2002 and 2004, the Organization of United States in conjunction with the United Nations Development Program facilitated negotiation between the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and the opposition to prevent conflict occurrence. Up to 2014, there has been calmness till when the opposition began opposing the leadership of Nicholas Maduro with the situation escalating in 2019 when he was being sworn in for a second term. 

On the other hand, the communicative technique requires the mediator to advance and focus on fostering communication and cooperation passively. The Truth Commission takes part in establishing the violence and its major causes and helps the party mediate on their grievances (Moore, 2014).  For instance, when the Post-Election Violence broke out in Kenya in 2007-08 elections, the body was commissioned with major players coming from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the late former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan being the chairperson. In this case, the critical approach was power mediation that led to the parties agreeing on a coalition government hence peace. 

In a directive approach of mediation, the peacemaker strives to influence the content and final decision of the negotiation. The mediator may threaten to employ practices like diplomatic sanctions or incentives and aids to the country (Ruggeri, Dorussen & Gizelis, 2017). A better example is the Tokyo Conference that sought about the reconstruction and development of Sri Lanka. The parties that attended like the US, EU, Norway, and Japan offered financial support of USD 4.5 billion towards restoration and improvement of Sri Lanka, thus enhancing peaceful coexistence. 

Moreover, preventative diplomacy helps the mediators to prevent disputes from arising or escalating into a conflict between disputants and limit the spread of fights should it occur. The strategy has been crucial in conflicts like the US-China trade war, the Russia-US disputes, and North Korea-US conflict. Finally, there is the apolitical strategy where the non-profit and private organizations like International Crisis Group participate in the resolution of international conflicts through researching, analyzing and advocating for conflict resolution (Moore, 2014). A good illustration is the case of research conducted by the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) in 2009 in the warzones areas of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel to prevent any conflict that would have risen due to competition for scarce resources like water resources due to climate change. 

Mediation and Outcomes

The success of a mediation process is viewed from different perspectives by different persons. Some individuals consider the negotiation process as a success when both parties in a conflict formally or informally accept the mediator to allow talks. The perception was mainly during the times of a few numbers of mediation with high expectations. On the other hand, a successful mediation occurs when there are a solution and termination of the hostilities. In this case, it focuses on a situation where the eventual result is the signing of a peace agreement (Wallensteen & Svensson, 2014). In most cases, studies reveal that 55% of these mediation fails as they usually do not reach these extends. For instance, mediation of conflicts in countries like Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and Venezuela has failed on this scale. 

However, some scholars argue that the latter measure is broad, thus examine both the short term and long term results. In this case, they suggest that the outcomes of the process should be into two. One is coming into an agreement on political, power-sharing in a territory, third-party security guarantees, or justice enforcement (Wallensteen & Svensson, 2014). Majorly, it focuses on any outcome from the mediation process to minimize the hostility in the war region. For instance, under such measure, mediation in Syria may be considered a success due to establishing some war free zones such as Idlib region, Eastern Ghouta, the Rastan Pocket, Southern Syria through the appealing of Turkey, Russia, and Iran.

Conversely, long term success considers the reoccurrence of conflict where a low chance of a repetition of the war and hostilities signifies the accomplishment of the mediation. In most negotiations that lead to a de-escalation or end of the war, the reoccurrence of war takes longer time (Wallensteen & Svensson, 2014). Situations of disputes such as Venezuela took over ten years before re-emergence. In all of the above cases, there is no explicit determinant of mediation due to the unpredictable nature and behavior of conflict. For that matter, the outcome of the mediation process in regards to success is always relative depending on the scope of mediation.

Challenges to Mediation

Currently, the number of conflicts has tripled since the end of the cold war thus increase the fatalities and victims of disputes and wars in the world. Over 65 million people have been displaced due to conflicts in their region with Syria displacing more than half of its population, around 6.5 million people (Bijlani, 2017). Therefore, the need and urgency of mediation have increased that has prompted the UN to focus on various measures of preventing future wars in other regions as they attempt solving the existing ones. 

The nature of the conflict also poses a challenge in the mediation process in regards to issues like state fragility, confusing lines among political, criminal and ideological interests like in Syria where the ISIS against the government and the government humiliates its citizens (United Nation, 2017). Furthermore, the complexities in the economies of conflict and position of the countries like the US-China trade war, and unclear objectives of the increased armed groups are challenges in mediation. Besides, the regionalization and internalization of disputes complicate the situation, thus hindering mediation. 

Fourth, the contribution of media in escalating the spread of information, some of which are uncertified leads to reactions and escalation of conflict in the affected area. Moreover, peace agreements under strain environment lead to the relapse into conflict like were the case of South Sudan hence distorting the full mediation process (United Nation, 2017). Finally, inadequate support from the Security Council has limited the mediation efforts of the UN.

Conclusion

The rate of the on-going war in the current world is increasing so fast that the UN, the Security Council, and private organizations must make a swift move to minimize, and prevent future emergence of any conflict through the strategies discussed above. Until now, the impact of mediation has been quite low due to the rising number of wars and their intensification in such areas. Therefore, the mediators and peace ambassadors must put more effort in not only focusing on the on-going disputes but also significant on the creation of awareness about the importance of peace, love and harmony and support one another in the society. Consequently, the mediation challenges will be eradicated hence a highly effective mediation process for a peaceful and humane world. 

References

Bijlani, R. (2017). 15 Facts About The Syrian War. The Borgen Project. Retrieve from https://borgenproject.org/facts-about-the-syrian-civil-war/

Hossain, F. A., & Ali, M. K. (2014). The relation between individual and society. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2(08), 130. 

Mcloughlin, C., (2016). State-Society Relations and Citizenship. GSDRC Applied Knowledge Services. Retrieve from https://gsdrc.org/topic-guides/state-society-relations-and-citizenship/state-society-relations-overview/

Moore, C. W., (2014). The mediation process: Practical strategies for resolving conflict. John Wiley & Sons.

Queiroz, R., (2018). Individual liberty and the importance of the concept of the people. Palgrave Communications, 4(1), 99.

Ruggeri, A., Dorussen, H., & Gizelis, T. I. (2017). Winning the peace locally: UN peacekeeping and local conflict. International organization, 71(1), 163-185.

Spirkin, A., (2011). Dialectical Materialism: Man and Society. In Themes in Soviet Marxist Philosophy. Retrieve from https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/spirkin/works/dialectical-materialism/ch05-s04.html

United Nation, (2017). Report of the Secretary-General: United Nations Activities in Support of Mediation Activities. United Nations. Retrieved from https://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/DPA%20Report%20REV9%20ENG%20WEB.PDF

Wallensteen, P., & Svensson, I. (2014). Talking peace: International mediation in armed conflicts. Journal of Peace Research, 51(2), 315-327.

4 Comments on The impact of Mediation on International Conflict Resolution

International conflict is hard to use mediation to solve as the disputants are not easy to come to a compromise. Normally, the conflict is not caused by multiple reasons. Mediation needs to take long time to finish. The conflict sometime involves political reason and hostility and these kinds of conflict already exist for century. It could not be easy to solve just by several meetings. Sometime, the conflict is solved by force. Sometime other country is coming in and forcing the parties to reach an agreement and it not just be solved through mediation only.
Mediator for international conflict should study and analyze the nature of conflict clearly and dig deep in the real cause (not just the face of cause) before starting the mediation process. Otherwise, mediation will be with no result.

I agree to the extend that the UN council should look more into prevetion of conflict with the help of education and peace activists . Mediation in my eyes is a second step which is allowed to take time and should be mindful.
I think that it would help if we could imagine/ consider this world without borders ( mere lines on a map) and focus on a global system. Like how to feed the world and distribute resources accordondly. As long as we focus on profit over people we are set up to fail as no real conflict resulotion which considers the needs of all can be reached and are therefore only little steps in the right direction but not sustainable.

Logic could be used to solve most of the ongoing crisis and even stop future crisis via preventive diplomacy but it seems ego is playing a big role in conflict resolution and the achievement of a settlement. This phenomenon is likely to continue surviving as antagonist especially hardliners are not willing to give up or to listen to their constituencies in case the majority has a contrary opinion. This should be one of the reasons why international mediation is hard to achieve.

Mediation in international conflict is a good and satisfactory way to facilitate conflict resolution. In my opinion the difficulty is that many states struggle with power imbalance, where one party usually seeks an advantage. The weaker state with vulnerabilities may not be willing to be a secondary player. There is the element of mistrust. With this underlying element of lack of trust, mediators will have to skillful and use innovative practices to enhance the trust between the parties, especially in international matters. This can go a long way in successful mediation.

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