Mediation: The Possibility of Peace in Conflict

The fact that conflict is all around us epitomizes the fact that it is inalienable with living. Near and far, directly or indirectly, we all deal with and experience conflict. Issues of conflict encompass us subtly or in escalation. Conflict is part of life; daily encounters are embedded with conflicts. Conflict is not negative; it should viewed in a positive light. It is an expression of human diversity and richness. Conflict is, therefore, not an issue for avoidance but should be seen as a means to a good end. The only problem with conflict is violence. However, whether a conflict is peaceful or escalated into violence, there is still hope for peace. Despite all that is seen and felt around us, there can still be peace in violent or peaceful conflict.
My paper substantiates the possibility of peace in conflict with examples of several resolved conflicts and a hope for peace even amid several ongoing violent conflicts. It underlines the achievements of mediators in conflict resolution in the past and the hope for the future. Alternate dispute resolution, particularly mediation, has, therefore, come to stay, and the role of mediators cannot be overstated. The intervention of an impartial mediator makes a difference in the lives of conflicting parties. The mediators need to get to the root of the conflict to avoid a reoccurrence. She aims to encourage the conflicting parties to build a relationship while they are in conflict and after a resolution. I, therefore, refer to a conflict as a painful gain. The benefits are enormous when there is an amicable resolution between conflicting parties. The parties to a conflict can understand their differences and see the beauty in a resolution. Their relationship is strengthened, or perhaps a new relationship is created.

The core nature of man is conflict. History has recounted conflict as part of existence. Families, clans, villages, towns, and countries constantly conflict. Whether as a creationist or an evolutionist, the beginning of the world pictures the world’s existence hand in hand with conflict. The Big Bang theory of the universe’s birth identifies and buttresses some form of conflict. Humans, therefore, are prone to conflict as individuals, small and large groups. Conflict arises for several reasons, but the unmet needs of parties are the reason for most conflicts.

Issues of conflict within families are similar to those within larger societies. It is easy to think that less important things cause conflicts within smaller groups than international conflicts. It is, however, interesting to know that the cause of conflict within
and amongst family members is similar to the cause of disputes amongst nation-states. Conflicts are, therefore, a natural part of human existence. However, violent conflict is not. History has shown the disadvantages and consequences of an escalated conflict. Violence and war have occurred and are still occurring due to conflict.

Resolving conflicts brings peace, relationship building, and a better understanding of the conflicting parties. A nonresolution might result in violence and war, which have occurred several times in the past and at present. The world at large has not learned from the falls of a violent conflict, the loss of lives and property, and the psychological and emotional trauma that is passed from generation to generation. Instead, the plunging into violence has continued and is seen today in both the local and international communities. The call for peaceful resolution of conflict is at the four corners of the world. An amicable resolution of dispute is encouraged in all ramifications of life, the family, the workplace, communities, and the

This paper is written using the United States English and the Turabian rule of style. The paper will look at conflict with the eyes of positivity, mediation, the difficulty of mediation in times of crisis, and the need for a peaceful existence amid conflict.

Conflict is beneficial to man and is an essential part of any organization or community. It is a natural occurrence within all living things, especially humans. Conflict in itself should not be seen as negative. It is the handling of a conflict that determines its outcome because, “Conflict is neither positive nor negative in and of itself. Conflict is an outgrowth of the diversity that characterizes our thoughts, our attitudes, our beliefs, our perceptions, and our social systems and structures.
Conflict should, therefore, not be considered objectively; a situation where people who co-exist do not conflict should be concerning. A saying of the Yoruba in the western part of Nigeria, West Africa sees a lack of conflict between people that co-exist as deceitful.

Conflict is the expression of people’s individuality, the colorfulness of their minds and thoughts. The diversity between people is what makes the community vibrant. These attributes should be considered positive and not be the cause of violence of any kind. For example, in a family of multiple children, there is a diversity of opinions, and so is there
in our society and the world. The conflicts that arise within families translate into societies. Diversity is a healthy aspect of human society. Diversity can open up possibilities, challenge us to consider alternatives and keep us from allowing ourselves to stagnate. We need to celebrate diversity, not fear it or perceive it as a threat.

An attempt to prevent or cover up conflict is in no way a solution and does not make a society or organization peaceful. It could cause an escalation if the cause of the conflict is not addressed. Conflicts should therefore, not be prevented; however, parties to a conflict should attempt to resolve their issues. When parties are unable to resolve their issues, the need to resolve with the facilitation of a third impartial party is encouraged. The intervention of a third party, a peacemaker, or a mediator will assist in resolving conflict where parties cannot resolve. The peacemaker acts as a facilitator to assist the parties in understanding their issues and coming to an amicable settlement.

Mediation has become a welcome process of dispute settlements between disputing parties at the local level and within the international communities. “ It is the most favored ADR activity”. Mediation not only resolves disputes between parties but also builds the relationship between the parties. “It is a process of listening and moving to
interests from positions”.

In the international community, mediation has produced more positive results than other means of conflict resolution. The interference of a third impartial party is more acceptable to parties than other forms of conflict resolution. The peacemaker is a facilitator who assists the parties in understanding their issues and coming to an amicable

In the international community, the advantages of mediation are more evident. This is partly because, in international law, court decisions are unenforceable. Decisions by the ICJ, for example, does not have the police’s enforceability compared to that of a nation-state. Nation-states cannot be held accountable by territorial and international courts. Israel has turned a deaf ear to the recent judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Israel has continued with its bombing of Gaza and has not relented in its aim of destroying and capturing Gaza.

Sanctions imposed on countries sometimes have little or no consequence for those countries. When sanctions are imposed on countries by stronger ones, they can overcome economic sanctions imposed on them by finding necessary solutions. For example, Russia has found alternate buyers for its petroleum. Despite sanctions from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia have been selling petroleum to India. On the contrary, countries usually adhere to agreements made by them, and there is usually no need for enforcement or the imposition of sanctions when their needs have been addressed in a mediation process.

Parties are in conflict because they have been unable to solve their problems. Parties’ inability to solve their problems could cause the conflict to escalate into violence or make the parties seek a third-party intervention. Escalation of a conflict can result in threat and violence. The result of violence is the loss of lives and property and usually the loss of the contested issue of conflict. However, “escalation of a conflict cannot continue indefinitely; one way or the other, the crisis will lead to an outcome.” In an escalation, either one party wins, some demands are made and met, or a third party intervenes. Whether the conflict has escalated or not, the handling the issues is as important as the issues itself.

In conflict resolution, the peacemaker can be an international organization for example, the United Nations, a more substantial or well-respected country, for example, the United States of America, a former president of a country, for example, Jimmy Carter, or a professional or informal mediator. The intervention of a peacemaker might prevent a conflict from escalating.

In mediation, the parties own the floor and should be allowed to solve their issues. The mediator encourages dialogue between the parties within a safe environment where the parties can share views and concerns without restrictions. The mediator helps the parties to identify their needs and stake in the conflict. The parties are made to understand their ability to make choices and also understand the implications of the choices that they make.

The timing of an intervention is crucial for the resolution of a dispute. According to Yan Elison, international organizations should recognize when a conflict is brewing and when an escalation is possible. A late reaction to an international conflict can result in extreme loss of human lives, property, and perhaps the issue in conflict. A timely intervention is, therefore, key to a successful handling of a conflict. The Cable news network (CNN), Aljazeera, and other cable networks have broadcasted the war between Israel and Palestine and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Perhaps this is the result of a late response from the United Nations and negotiators on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Also, there was a significant sign of certainty of an emergence of war between Russia and Ukraine. Maybe more efforts at intervention at the earlier stage of conflict would have made a difference in what occurs now.

Conflicts usually do not start suddenly. An interview of disputing parties is bound to show biases, grudges, or links of such to amount to a conflict. The cause of a conflict can be missed if the mediator or third party does not diligently dig deep. In civil wars, issues within communities do not begin in a day. In the international community, relationships between nations decline with time. Indeed, Vladimir Putin made no secret of Russia’s Plan to invade Ukraine. The issues of conflict between Russia and Ukraine had been in the pipeline.

The Conflict between Israel and Palestine did not start with the bombing done by Hamas in October 2023. Perhaps it started in 1948 when the United Nations created Israel. The conflict between Israel and Palestine could have been influenced by stories passed down centuries ago. The war that has escalated into the greatest of wars between the two countries is a build-up of deep-rooted issues between the states. To successfully resolve a conflict, the peacemaker must address the real issues of conflict. A resolution that does not address the real reason parties conflict will cause a reoccurrence that might pose a worse situation than the previous one. To effectively address a conflict, it is cogent that the mediator knows the cause of the conflict. To understand the conflict, the mediator has to know and understand the background of the parties.

The mediator must also empathize with the parties’ feelings and recognize why the parties feel a particular way about an issue. The mediator must be able to wear the parties; shoes. Understand why the parties hold dear what they do and why they feel the way they feel about the issue.

Conflicts and resultant wars have ravaged both international and local communities. Reasons for these conflicts vary, and they are specific and peculiar to individual parties. The things that people hold dear vary from person to person and
community to community. Competition between people, communities, and the international level is healthy. In the international community, “ as long as the competition between states takes place within the boundaries of conventional diplomacy, international conflict is not problematic.” It is the escalation of the conflict through forceful confrontation and
violence that is unacceptable.

One of the overwhelming causes of conflicts within and between nation-states is the existence of God-endowed land and natural resources. War and violent conflict emerges “whenever the potential development of an individual or group is held back by the conditions of a relationship, and in particular by the uneven distribution of power and resources”. The rise in prices of necessities like oil, food, and shelter, the emergence of militant groups as seen presently in Haiti, and the violation of basic fundamental human rights are some other causes of wars.

The coexistence of communities of similar ancestral history and ties has been strained due to their struggle for land and natural resources. These communities, however, have more in common than their diversity. Communities, no matter how diverse, are able to find some commonality in their histories if attention is given to their similarities rather than their differences. Boundary nations might even have the same ancestors if traced.

The devasting effect of an escalating conflict can be avoided if the cause of a conflict is properly handled. For example, the conflict between Nigeria and Cameroon on the Bakasi peninsula would have resulted in a brutal war if not well handled by the leaders of the two countries. The adherence to the decision of the ICJ was done because the parties wanted a settlement and not a violent conflict. The wars between Pakistan and India have been because of Natural resources. The two countries have survived many wars, which could have been avoided. A conflict on shared natural resources between states should lead to an agreement on equitable access and not war.

The lack of good governance within countries, the withholding of energy supplies, human rights violations, and environmental degradation are also reasons for conflict. The genealogical information passed down from generation to generation is also a reason for conflict. There are conflicts where parties are not fully aware of the reason why there is friction between them and the other party. The victims of war in the Gaza region and Israel at present do not know how the conflict in the region started. It is notable that the “the Arab-Israeli conflict is now in its seventh decade. An earlier conflict between the small Jewish and the much larger Arab community in Palestine had first erupted in the late Ottoman period”. The cause of the conflict between Israel and Palestine is, therefore, one that has been for longer than the current occupants of both countries have lived. The countries have continued to wage war against each other at the slightest provocation due to stories and information passed down.

Unresolved conflicts result in crisis, war, and violence. This is because: Conflict is the pursuit of needs and desires that are in contradiction with each other. Such needs have potential of many kinds. They may include – the list is endless – material needs such as resources (the contents of a husband’s pay packet, a neighboring nation’s water supply), political needs such as a grasp on levers of power, and subjective needs in relation to identity, like those experienced by the young killers of Columbine High School.

It is easiest to infer and settle disputes when parties are still in disagreement with each other. When there is no external influence, the parties can find solutions to their problems. Any mediator would have an easy sail when two parties are still upset and in a state where they can listen to each other’s grievances.

The mediator can find the conflict’s sole actors at this time. The parties are identifiable and can effectively communicate with each other. The parties are still pacificiable and have not involved other sympathizers or interest groups in their conflict. At this early stage of conflict, mediation rules are easier to follow. The parties are within reach, are present on set, and the relationship-building can start.

When a conflict has escalated, or there is already an outbreak of war, the issues become complicated. The sympathizers on each side of the conflict make the issues worse. The conflict might even become extensive, with more parties becoming involved. History has it that the second world started by the Nazi invasion of Poland. The war between Israel and Palestine could revert to the Arab and Israel war in the least if it continues.

It is recorded that “throughout the decades of low-level conflict, the indigenous Palestinian Arabs were supported and helped by a large part of the Arab world. At that point, the parties to this present conflict would be Israel, Palestine, Hamas, and some other countries within the Arab nations. At present, bringing the stakeholders together at a table is getting as complicated as it could be. The war was supposedly between Hamas and Israel, as broadcasted by the cable and local news and by Israel itself. The least politically aware person knows that this war has affected not only the Hamas militant group but, majorly, the Palestinian people.

Mediators might have to lay aside the dispute settlement during war and crisis and save lives. The task of the mediator, therefore, becomes severalfold. The urgency of specific issues takes precedence over the settlement of the disputes. The negotiators involved in the Israel and Palestine war have, therefore, resulted in working within the Humanitarian Corridor. The release of the hostages and the provision of food and medical supplies have taken preeminence over a ceasefire.

Mediation in crisis is, therefore, not the same and could be more complicated in times of conflict. In times of violent conflict, the tasks of the mediators become more complex. Mediation is now beyond an amicable settlement of disputes between parties. The initial conflict issues would have given birth to more issues that must be addressed
for peace to occur.

Human rights violations are at their highest during a violent conflict. Women and children are mostly vulnerable during crisis or war, and boys are recruited as soldiers in war. In as much that there has been a role change between men and women as regards the war front participants, women and children are mostly at the receiving end of a war. The stake of women is higher compared to that of men. “women become the bearers of the culture that the men are fighting to defend.” They are victims and partakers of the war. “Women and the girl child are exposed to unwanted and highly traumatic pregnancies…. HIV and other transmitted diseases”. Despite the effect that violent conflict has on women, they are usually excluded from negotiation and the process of settlement.

In a crisis or war-torn situation, reaching a peace agreement between the parties can take more time than a non-violent conflict. The mediation process becomes delayed, which is one of the benchmarks of mediation. The war situation sometimes negatively affects the efforts of the mediators or negotiators. The parties are seen within the purview of crisis and chaos. It is difficult to decipher which party intends positive actions as both sides are involved in the various violations. In war times, “therefore, best intentions, however, might not bear fruit if the environment is too hostile.”

Ethnic issues that have resulted in civil wars and generational issues resulting to violent conflict within nation-states, therefore, makes mediation a more difficult task. Also, more deadly conflicts may increase the level of hostility and might often entail feelings of hatred and vengeance that linger on after the end of a war, thereby reducing the willingness of the parties to honor a peace agreement if one exists. Even if a conflict is temporarily ended, through victory or settlement, hostile parties may only await a new opening in the political opportunity structure to strike again, especially if they feel that
the underlying issues have not been addressed. A peace settlement or mediation might become impossible. A long time or
permanent peace might also be impossible after a war. Though it is clear that mediation during times of war and violence is difficult, it is still worth trying, and peace is possible. The United Nations and International organizations have not relented in their efforts for a peaceful world.

Can man engage in conflict without it resulting in violence? There have been more resolved conflicts than escalated ones. If all the conflicts that exist or have existed resulted in violence, everyone will be against one another as this paper is being written. Indeed, negotiation, mediation, and amicable settlements, whether formal or informal, have saved the world from much chaos. In the last century or so, more than a hundred million people have died in wars. The figure does not include the many who have been murdered by politically repressive regimes or the victims of the terror sometimes evoked in response to them.

The conflicts that have, however, resulted in violence have shocked the world and its communities. A picture of the current wars has made the effect of violent conflict more evident. The war between Russia and Ukraine has affected other countries’ food and oil supplies, especially third-world countries. Citizens of Palestine have become refugees in
other countries. Is a dream for peace beyond the world’s reach?

The 1994 UNICEF collection of children’s artwork titled “ Dream of Peace” speaks volumes to the current occurrence in the world today. The Dream of Peace (UNICEF, 1994), a collection of children’s artwork from the former Yugoslavia can prompt children to discuss their own visions of war and peace and to express them through art work. Where books are in short supply, children can be encouraged to produce books of their own. These may contain real-life stories of how they have dealt with conflict, fictional stories, and children’s own poems, songs, and drawings on themes of peace. Does a dream for Peace seem beyond the reach of the world’s citizens?

Peace is not a far-fetched idea. It is not a world without conflict, but where conflict are resolved and not allowed to destroy but to build. Peace is a world where children’s and adult’s rights alike are protected. A place where children can go to school and feel safe. Where people, communities, and nations alike understand their differences as gifts and not curses. This is a world of peace and tranquility. A Dream for Peace starts from the home, the early school every child attends. The need for Peace is taught directly or indirectly in schools, associations, and communities. Is Peace a dream? At present, conflict has resulted in so much harm affecting children born and unborn in a way that perhaps the world has never experienced before. Amicable settlement of disputes is a welcome approach to dispute resolution in every society, place of work, and the international community. The children will continue to dream of Peace, and so will all men imagine a world without War and violence.

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