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Bias, Prenegotiation and Leverage in Mediation

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image of International Negotiation

Although analysts have long held that bias disqualifies a mediator, more recent analysis, pioneered by Saadia Touval, shows that bias can be quite helpful to mediation under the assumption that the mediator delivers the agreement of the party toward which it is biased. Of course, the mediator is still expected to be trustworthy in dealing with the parties and reliable in communications. Prenegotiation and diagnosis, probably the least analyzed early stages of negotiation, are shown to be crucial to a successful negotiation and the necessary preconditions to an efficient and effective process. Leverage, the term for “power” in negotiation, is a scarce resource and takes the form of effective persuasion rather than material inducements and punishments; it depends above all on the need of the conflicting parties for an agreement, which in turn depends on the attractiveness of their alternatives or security points (BATNAs).

Affiliations: 1: School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA;, Email:


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