The Mediation Dilemma

The Mediation Dilemma

Kyle Beardsley
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Mediation Dilemma
    Book Description:

    Mediation has become a common technique for terminating violent conflicts both within and between states; while mediation has a strong record in reducing hostilities, it is not without its own problems. In The Mediation Dilemma, Kyle Beardsley highlights its long-term limitations. The result of this oft-superficial approach to peacemaking, immediate and reassuring as it may be, is often a fragile peace. With the intervention of a third-party mediator, warring parties may formally agree to concessions that are insupportable in the long term and soon enough find themselves at odds again.

    Beardsley examines his argument empirically using two data sets and traces it through several historical cases: Henry Kissinger's and Jimmy Carter's initiatives in the Middle East, 1973-1979; Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 mediation in the Russo-Japanese War; and Carter's attempt to mediate in the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis. He also draws upon the lessons of the 1993 Arusha Accords, the 1993 Oslo Accords, Haiti in 1994, the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement in Sri Lanka, and the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding in Aceh. Beardsley concludes that a reliance on mediation risks a greater chance of conflict relapse in the future, whereas the rejection of mediation risks ongoing bloodshed as war continues.

    The trade-off between mediation's short-term and long-term effects is stark when the third-party mediator adopts heavy-handed forms of leverage, and, Beardsley finds, multiple mediators and intergovernmental organizations also do relatively poorly in securing long-term peace. He finds that mediation has the greatest opportunity to foster both short-term and long-term peace when a single third party mediates among belligerents that can afford to wait for a self-enforcing arrangement to be reached.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6261-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-17)

    On August 11, 2006, after a month of fighting between Israel and Hizbullah, the UN Security Council, with the approval of the Israeli and Lebanese leadership, formalized cease-fire arrangements by adopting Resolution 1701. Two days later, the Israeli ground offensive came to a halt. The cease-fire resulted after frantic, and frequently competing, U.S. and French mediation efforts. Not even two weeks earlier, the United States had supported the Israeli use of force and resisted imposing a cease-fire; meanwhile, most of the rest of the world pushed for peace. The civilian toll from the hostilities and the loss of confidence in...

    (pp. 18-43)

    There are three necessary components of mediation in a conflict: (1) the mutually permitted involvement of a third party, (2) third-party reliance on nonviolent tactics, and (3) an absence of authority for the third party to make a binding resolution. It is worth noting that some scholars and practitioners draw a distinction between mediation and facilitation or conciliation.¹ Because facilitation meets these criteria and because it is often difficult to distinguish facilitation from other mediation activities, my approach here, like many other notable studies, includes it as a specific style of mediation.² At various points, the theory and analysis later...

    (pp. 44-71)

    To explore the impact of mediation on the conflict bargaining environment, we can, as I do in chapters 4 and 5, observe how the variation in conflict outcomes changes in the presence of third-party involvement. Alternatively, we can look at the conditions that give rise to mediation to understand the purpose for which the actors intend to use it. We can learn much about the intended purposes of a treatment by studying the symptoms that lead to its adoption.

    By forming and testing our expectations about when actors find mediation in their interest, we can deal head on with the...

  7. 4 RAISON D’ÊTRE: Short-Term Benefits of Mediation
    (pp. 72-99)

    In the previous chapter, we find that mediation is more likely when actors confront severe and long conflicts that provide mounting costs for the disputants and when leaders discount the future in favor of short-term political consolidation. For mediation to be as prevalent as it is, in light of expected nontrivial costs and long-term risks, it must then provide the actors with, at a minimum, short-term relief from hostilities, assuming that seeking mediation is a rational response to the desperation for peace. The short-term peaceful dividends considered here include the ability to achieve a formal agreement, the willingness to make...

    (pp. 100-151)

    In chapter 4, I point to the benefits that mediation offers to conflict bargaining processes. Along with the findings in chapter 3, this helps explain why third parties are so frequently asked to assist in negotiation initiatives. Combatants, wanting to maximize progress toward peace settlements or otherwise escape costly conflict, are typically rewarded when they turn to third-party assistance. Mediation is not epiphenomenal; it produces meaningful peaceful dividends.

    The evidence explored thus far demonstrates that intermediaries are useful conflict managers, but it does not suggest that they constitute a conflict-resolution panacea. Each of the outcomes explored in chapter 4 pertains...

    (pp. 152-176)

    Intrastate conflicts are, in the twenty-first century, more prevalent and more deadly than their interstate counterparts. Both the quantitative and qualitative analyses thus far have focused exclusively on interstate crises and disputes even though the theoretical underpinnings of the mediation dilemma are not specific to either interstate or intrastate peace processes.¹ Recall that we have arrived at a theoretical understanding of the trade-off between the short- and long-term effects of mediation by characterizing a bargaining environment in which actors are in disagreement and in which third parties can help the combatants reach a settlement but in so doing can also...

    (pp. 177-192)

    The quotation from Leo Tolstoy that begins this book laments the “impotency of human reason” to understand and avoid war. In the same letter, Tolstoy also writes that “Enlightened men cannot but know that occasions for war are always such as are not worth not only one human life, but not one-hundredth part of all that which is spent upon wars” (1904, 4). Like Benjamin Franklin, Tolstoy sees war as a wasteful enterprise that costs even the victors more than they gain. Scholars who treat war as a purely rational outcome of strategic behavior also understand it to be inefficient,...

    (pp. 193-216)
  12. References
    (pp. 217-232)
  13. Index
    (pp. 233-240)