International Conflict Analysis
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Teong Yi Heong (Jet) U021202J International Conflict Analysis 5. Timing is very important for mediation to succeed. When should mediation be attempted? At the beginning or at the middle point? Answer with reference to a conflict/conflicts of your choice. The prevalence of conflict at any level of society, be it among individuals, organizations, states et cetera, is unavoidable. As a premise to his argument for the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes posits that the natural condition of man is "a condition of war of everyone against everyone"1. Extrapolating from his premise, it is arguable that conflict is inherent to man's nature. Given that conflict is inevitable, it is then necessary to manage conflict to ensure survival. According to Jacob Bercowitch et al, conflict can be managed by any of these means: the use of either physical or psychological force; through negotiations; or, the involvement of parties external to the conflict either in the utilization of legal norms or in a non binding manner2. Mediation as a conflict management technique falls in the last category. William Zartman and Saadia Touval suggest the definition of mediation to be "a mode of negotiation in which a third party helps the parties find a solution which they cannot find by themselves."3 The definition is broad and encompasses a wide range of third party involvement. Jacob Bercovitch distinguishes mediation from other forms of third party involvement as follows: 1) Mediation must be invited by the parties in conflict; that is, the parties are not forced to accept mediation 2) Mediation aims to "change, affect or influence their [disputants'] perceptions or behaviour"; that is, mediation do not attempt to enforce a settlement 3)
Conflict fatigue is itself not sufficient condition for "ripeness": a party may persist in conflict despite huge losses so long as the opponent is losing more. Thus, Zartman argues that conditions are ripe for mediation when both parties face a "hurting stalemate" 15, that is, a situation where neither side could meet their aims unilaterally and both were incurring costs without a chance of gain. In this consideration then, mediation is more likely to be successful if it is adopted as a policy of last resort by the disputants, and the mediated outcome is deemed to be more favourable than the continuation of conflict. It is also pertinent to consider the mediator's role. Mediators tend to take interest in a conflict only towards the middle of the conflict, because the implications and repercussions will only be clearer in the later developments. A mediator may become interested only when the conflict threatens regional stability, its own strategic and economic interests, or when the conflict offers a means by which its influence can be extended16. The case of Sudan is interesting in this regard: atrocities within the state have been ongoing for a fairly long period of time, but it has only just captured the interest of the international community particular the hegemonic United States. The high human costs were precisely what necessitated intervention and mediation. In addition, Pricen also argues that the control that a mediator can exercise over the mediator process and on disputants increase as the conflict wears on. He states that With respect to the intermediary-disputant relationship then, the later the intermediary enters, the greater the intermediary's bargaining power, and hence, the greater its procedural power over the disputant.
p. 171 6 Marieke Kleiboer, The Multiple Realities of International Mediation. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers: 1998. p. 12 7 Ibid. p. 13 8 Ibid, pp. 19-22. Kleiboer raises four sets of variables: Variables concerning the conflict (conflict ripeness, the level of intensity, the nature of issues), variables concerning the mediator (impartiality, leverage, status) variables concerning the parties and their relationships (cohesiveness, balance of power, relationships between parties, identification of parties, type of regime) and process variables (mediator behaviour.) 9 Chester A. Crocker et al Herding Cats: Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World. Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press. 1999. p. 21 10 Michael Grieg, "Moments of opportunity. Recognising conditions of ripeness for international mediation between enduring rivals" Journal of Conflict Resolution.Vol 45. No. 6, December 2001. pp. 691-692. 11 Inis L. Claude, Jnr Swords into Plowshares: The Problems and Progress of International Organisation. New York:Random House: 1971. p. 238. Due to source constraints, Frank Edmead's view is reflected in Marieke Kleiboer, The Multiple Realities of International Mediation p19. 12 Ibid. p. 239 13 Thomas Pricen, Intermediaries in International Conflict. New Jersey: Princeton University Press: 1992. pp. 53-54. 14 Ibid; Crocker, Herding Cats. pp. 21-22; 15 Zartman and Touval "Mediation: The role of third-party diplomacy and informal peacemaking" p. 251 16 Ibid. pp. 242-247 17 Pricen, Intermediaries in International Conflict. p. 54 18 Tail Levy. "The 1991 Cambodia settlement agreements" Melanie C. Greenberg et al. Words Over War: Mediation and Arbitration to Prevent Deadly Conflict Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield: 2000. p. 144 19 Richard. H. Solomon, "Bring peace to Cambodia". Chester A Crocket et al. Herding Cats. p. 280 20 Levy. "The 1991 Cambodia settlement agreements" p. 146 21 Ibid. p. 156 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1
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