chapter  2
9 Pages

Problems with unbiased mediators

Unbiased mediators are fairly prevalent in internal armed conflicts. In this chapter I argue that unbiased mediators in civil wars possess some relative weaknesses as peace brokers between governments and rebels. Their interests and resources make them generally less suitable to bring about the peace institutions that are considered here as the ultimate bench-mark for evaluating successful outcomes of mediation processes. Examining the basic incentives as well as the resource-structure of the unbiased mediators, this chapter explains why we can expect that these types of peacemakers generally will have a low chance of crafting a deal which addresses the basic issues through various peace institutional arrangements. It is important to stress from the outset that this does not mean that unbiased mediators should be disregarded. Unbiased mediators have particular roles to play in peacemaking processes, which they can do once they fully comprehend their limitations. Later in this book we will come back to the implications of my argument for the role of unbiased mediators in bringing armed conflicts to a peaceful end. The unbiased mediators have certain general disadvantages, which can make them less effective in bringing about peace institutions, if comparison is made to mediators that can be considered as siding with one party in the conflict. The gist of my argument is that the basic incentives and resources available for unbiased mediators place them in a particular mediation context, in which they will not be effective as peace brokers. There are three premises of this argument. First, unbiased mediators have incentives to prefer the mere fact of an agreement over reaching a particular type of agreement, and when push comes to shove these peacemakers may therefore be ready to sacrifice the quality of the agreements reached at the negotiating table in order to hasten an end to a war. Second, parties in conflict do not request unbiased mediators primarily for reasons and circumstances that are related to their effort to honestly negotiate a deal over the core issues in conflict, but seek their involvement for secondary reasons, related to their relationship with the mediators rather than the other (enemy) side. Third, in general, unbiased mediators lack resources and qualities that enhance the chance for peace institutions to be crafted and agreed upon. Hence, examining the basic reasons for why unbiased mediators intervene in internal armed conflict, it can be expected that these will be generally less successful peacemakers

in civil wars. In particular, when it comes to the crafting of peace institutions, unbiased mediators do not seem well-suited to managing this crucial task in the peacemaking process.