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New routes to power: towards a typology of power mediation

Abstract
Abstract

This article is concerned with a particular debate in mediation literature, revolving around the merit and necessity of power as a strategy employed by third parties in their efforts to negotiate a successful resolution to conflict. We argue that by subscribing to a one-dimensional spectrum of pure-to-power mediation, students of mediation have neglected the development of how power is conceptualised and operates within the changing dynamics of conflict and its mediation.

We therefore seek to redefine the concept of power mediation to project a closer fit between conflicting parties' understanding of their situation and the methods, aims and motivations of their mediators. Breaking away from the existing pure-power spectrum, we propose a heuristic framework that includes four distinct types of power mediation, defined here as real, made, critical and structural power. The contribution of our heuristic model is threefold. First, it assists us in asking the most basic question of social science research, ‘of what is this a case’, which in turn ought to lead to a more sophisticated observation of mediation instances. Concurrently, through the frame of ‘power’, it establishes common understanding of observable phenomena that makes the study of mediation more accessible to the wider audience beyond students of our modest literature. Finally, the synthesis of epistemological and ontological inquiry of conflict and power with the established International Relations (IR) approaches of realism(s), constructivism, critical discourse and structuralism, allows respective real, made, critical and structural types of mediation power to be tested.

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8 Bercovitch J. and Rubin J. (eds), Mediation in International Relations (London: Macmillan, 1992) ; Touval S., The Peace Brokers: Mediators in the Arab–Israeli Conflict, 1948–1979 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982) ; Beardsley et al., ‘Mediation Style and Crisis Outcomes’; Carnevale P., ‘Mediating from Strength’, in Bercovitch J. (ed.), Studies in International Mediation: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Z. Rubin (London: Palgrave-MacMillan), p. 33 .

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13 Fisher and Keashley, ‘The Potential Complementarity of Mediation’, p. 33 .

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17 Fisher and Keashley, ‘The Potential Complementarity of Mediation’, p. 33 .

18 Touval, The Peace Brokers, p. 275 .

19 Princen, Intermediaries in International Conflict.

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24 Beardsley, et al. , ‘Mediation Style and Crisis Outcomes’, pp. 5886 .

25 Bloomfield D., Peacemaking Strategies in Northern Ireland: Building Complementarity in Conflict Management Theory (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997) .

26 Crocker et al. , Herding Cats, p. 24 .

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29 Aggestam K., ‘Mediating Asymmetrical Conflict’, Mediterranean Politics, 7:1 (2002), pp. 6991 .

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31 Kleiboer and Hart, ‘Time to Talk?’, p. 312 .

32 Ibid., p. 338.

33 Keohane R., After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1984), p. 70 .

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38 Lukes S., Power: A Radical View (London: MacMillan, 1974) .

39 Giddens A., The Constitution of Society (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1984) ; Cox R., ‘Social Forces, States and World Orders’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 10:2 (1981), pp. 126155 .

40 Barnett M. and Duvall R., ‘Power in International Politics’, International Organization, 59:1: (2005), pp. 3975 .

41 Carr E., What is History? (London: Penguin, 1961) .

42 Barnett and Duvall, ‘Power in International Politics’, p. 39 .

43 Kleiboer and Hart, ‘Time to Talk?’, p. 315 .

44 Ibid., p. 323.

45 The epistemological ‘double dipping’ of constructivist approaches such as Wendt's are noted as in some ways restricting this ‘approach’ from being credited as political theory.

46 Kleiboer M., The Multiple Realities of International Mediation (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998) .

47 Kleiboer and Hart, ‘Time to Talk?’, p. 338 .

48 Princen, Intermediaries in International Conflict, p. 50 .

49 Kleiboer and Hart, ‘Time to Talk?’, pp. 337338 .

50 Ibid., p. 329.

51 Smith, ‘Mediator Impartiality’, p. 446 .

52 Zartman I. W., ‘The Unfinished Agenda: Negotiating Internal Conflicts’, in Licklider R. (ed.), Stopping the Killing (New York: New York University Press, 1993) .

53 Barnett and Duvall, ‘Power in International Politics’, p. 55 .

54 Ibid., p. 54.

55 Nash J., ‘The Bargaining Problem’, Econometrica, 18:2 (1950), pp. 155162

56 The complexity of two-level game however, offers different incentives and logics. In the language of Robert Putnam, looking at ‘acceptability sets’ and the ever-important win set, it can be argued that real or structural dimensions can significantly shift acceptability sets by exerting influence on the second, ‘ratifying layer’ of parties undertaking negotiations. This ratifying layer can be accounted for by the practical possibilities of legislation and policy formed through domestic constraints. Thus, keeping the domestic win set small, but shifted to be within the shared international acceptability set provides optimal bargaining positions. In other words, leverage can re-position a specific pareto acceptable outcome (that is, maximum gains without incurring more loss) at both layers that was previously unavailable. See Putnam R., ‘Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games’, International Organization, 42:3 (1988), pp. 427460 .

57 Richmond O., ‘Devious Objectives and the Disputants’ View of International Mediation: A Theoretical Framework’, Journal of Peace Research, 35:6 (1998), pp. 707722.

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59 Krasner S., International Regimes (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1983) .

60 Posen B., ‘The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict’, Survival, 35:1 (1993), p. 43 .

61 See for example Carnevale, ‘Mediating from Strength’; Smith, ‘Mediator Impartiality’; Touval, The Peace Brokers.

62 Segev S., ‘The Arab-Israeli Conflict under President Bush’, in Bose M. and Perotti R. (eds), From Cold War to New World Order: The Foreign Policy of George H.W. Bush (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press, 2002), pp. 113136 ; Siniver A, ‘Power, Impartiality and Timing: Three Hypotheses on Third Party Mediation in the Middle East’, Political Studies, 54:4 (2006), pp. 806826 .

63 Siniver, ‘Power, Impartiality and Timing’, p. 816 .

64 Zartman I. W., ‘The Timing of Peace Initiatives: Hurting Stalemates and Ripe Moments’, The Global Review of Ethnopolitics, 1:1 (2001), pp. 818 .

65 Carnevale P. and Choi D., ‘Culture in the Mediation of International Disputes’, International Journal of Psychology, 35:2 (2000), pp. 105110 ; Touval, The Peace Brokers.

66 Aggestam, ‘Mediating Asymmetrical Conflict’; Pruitt, ‘Mediator Behavior and Success in Negotiation’

67 Siniver, ‘Power, Impartiality and Timing’.

68 Zartman I. W. and Touval S., ‘International Mediation in the Post-Cold War Era’, p. 446 .

* A previous version of this article was presented at the Eight International Comparative Studies Section of the International Studies Association, Paris (14–15 June, 2008). The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of RIS for their extremely valuable comments on earlier drafts.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
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