Effective Mediation

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1. Introduction

The practice of settling human conflicts through intermediaries has had a rich history in Western and non-Western cultures and therefore a broad range of forms and functions. The conflicting parties in most of the societies and at all stages of social interaction have had access to external actors to whom they approach when they come to the conclusion that they are incapable to handle their different opinions by themselves. In this case, an ordinary response to identify contradictions in objectives and values be-tween adversaries is to enter into a process of negotiation in order to achieve an agreement on such differences, which is mutually acceptable. In consequence, negoti-ation seems to be a universal, human phenomenon, though it is often expressed in different forms that are suitable to each cultural context. Mediation aims at fostering the negotiation process and has become one of the most important methods of resolving international conflicts. (cf. Fisher 2001: 1; Bercovitch/Jackson 2009: 32) Nevertheless, mediation needs to be adapted to the norms and assumptions of any given cultural milieu, which can be an organization, or set of institutions, an international diplomacy, and the culture of a society or an identity group. Furthermore, practitioners as well as scientists of mediation have tried to create basic models of this process to find and explain many of the vital elements of mediation. (cf. Fisher 2001: 1; Rothchild 2008: 101f.) Without a doubt the process of finding models to reach a deeper understanding of mediation is still not finished. Although an extensive body of literature on the subject exists, the theory of how mediation works is not well originated and there is no consen-sus concerning th...

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...reduce conflict escalation and promote arrangement, hoping that the mediator will influence the other party, to show their commitment to resolution.

Regarding the characteristic of the mediator respectively a third-party, there are several aspects which are worthwhile to mention. Mediation is a voluntary and peaceful process and therefore an attractive option for loads of states. As a result, the mediator is only able to mediate when the conflicting parties see him as acceptable, reasonable, and knowledgeable. Further vital preconditions for effective mediation, which the me-diator should fulfill, are trust, credibility, and a high degree of personal skill and compe-tence. Additionally, characteristics like objectiveness or impartiality are also cited as being strongly linked with effective mediation. (cf. Bercovitch/Houston 1996: 25; Berco-vitch/Gartner 2009: 5)
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