The State of the Art in Mediation

The State of the Art in Mediation

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5118-8.ch003
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In this chapter, after a brief synthesis of emerging research on mediation, a reflection on the mediator's roles and styles will lay the ground for a better understanding of the personality and personal styles of mediators and how these affect the procedural component of mediation. Second, a deeper reflection on group processes allows us to understand how groups try to align themselves in regards to the mediation trajectory. Whereas the focus of this chapter is on mediation, inter- and intragroup processes are characterized by a range of negotiated processes. A better understanding of these negotiated processes allows for a better assessment of mediation strategies. Thirdly, an experiment in group negotiations forms the basis for a grounded theory approach and a better understanding of how groups in conflict can align their visions and strategies to the mediator's goals, leading to better process outcomes.
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As of late, the field of mediation has found itself in the deep end of epistemological confusion, with one type of authorship focusing extensively on a generalization of mediation processes to facilitate the planning and design of interventions (Wall et al., 2001), whilst the other side looks at more adaptive and situated models of mediation in order to prescribe approaches that fit a range of mediation contexts (Coleman et al., 2015). Aside from process design, many authors attempt to understand the ‘how’ of mediation (Savun, 2009; Svensson, 2007; Sisk, 2009), including the effectiveness of bias (Svensson, 2007) in successful mediation agreements. As of recent, the question of peace implementation has also brought into question the appropriateness of mediation for certain types of conflicts, looking therefore at the effects of mediation, or the ‘what’, and the concept of sustainable and durable peace agreements (Beardsley, 2011; Svensson, 2007, 2009).

In essence, available mediation literature, Coleman et al. (2015) aside, look at international mediation under the following framework (Wall et al., 2001; Duursma, 2014):

  • 1.

    Antecedents of international mediation:

    • a.


    • b.

      Perception and understanding that mediation offers an alternative to violent conflict;

    • c.

      Stakes of the conflict;

    • d.

      Reputation of the mediator;

    • e.

      Political will;

    • f.

      Insincere motives or strategies of deception;

    • g.

      Ability of the mediator to establish supportive confidence-building measures;

    • h.

      Negative spillover effects;

    • i.

      Humanitarian considerations;

    • j.

      Readiness for mediation at the political, operational, and diplomatic levels;

  • 2.

    International mediation approaches:

    • a.

      Access to information and leveling out power asymmetries;

    • b.

      Biased or unbiased mediation;

    • c.

      Benefits and costs of peace vs. benefits and costs of war;

    • d.

      Guaranteeing peace agreements;

  • 3.

    International mediation outcomes:

    • a.

      Peace agreements;

    • b.

      Lasting peace;

    • c.

      Quality of peace agreements.

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