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Mediation with Muscles or Minds? Exploring Power Mediators and Pure Mediators in Civil Wars

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image of International Negotiation

Mediation research has for a long time been divided on whether 'power mediators' or 'pure mediators' are preferred as peace brokers in armed conflicts. This study contributes by drawing a broader empirical picture of international mediation in civil wars. It is argued that these approaches to international mediation are complementary rather than contradictory, and that combining power mediators with pure mediators should be the best way of enhancing the prospect of mediation success. Using data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program on internal armed conflicts (1989–2003), the study examines and compares the effect of power mediators with pure mediators on different kinds of mediation outcomes: (1) the likelihood that parties reach agreements and (2) the provisions of those agreements. The study finds that although all types of mediators have a positive effect in terms of reaching agreements, power mediators outperform pure mediators. Most effective are the mediation attempts when both power and pure mediators are active as third parties. Examining the content of agreements, the study finds that pure mediators are more effective in reaching political and territorial power sharing provisions, whereas power mediators are more likely to be associated with military pacts.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Box 517, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden


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