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UN Mediators’ Collaboration with Scholars and Expert NGOs: Explaining the Need for Knowledge-Based Communities in Today’s Conflicts

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UN mediators work more and more closely with academics and expertise-based non-governmental organizations, in particular through the Mediation Support Unit. The Organization appears to genuinely rely on them to conduct mediation and to strengthen its capacity in the area, to the point where it is sometimes difficult to operate a clear distinction between the two types of actors. This article analyzes why the practice of mediation today creates a demand for such expertise-focused cooperation. Beyond the need for flexibility and additional resources, the explanation lies in the prevailing feeling of uncertainty caused by today’s internal conflicts, for which the traditional state-centric lens is becoming irrelevant. In this context, the UN relies on knowledge produced by an epistemic community of peace and conflict scholars, and is embedded in a network of nongovernmental mediators with which it exchanges know-how, following the logic of communities of practice.

Affiliations: 1: Sciences Po Paris 56 Rue Jacob, 75006 Paris France


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