A new role for unbiased mediators?
The argument that I lay out in this book is that mediators with ties to, convergent interests with, and clout over the parties in combat are comparatively more suited to get the parties to make central concessions than disinterested and unbiased peace-brokers. I have shown empirical evidence in support of this claim, and identified the causal pathways through which biased mediation brings about readiness for concessions and agreements for peace in civil wars. Yet, before we end this book, we need to ask ourselves what the implications are for the unbiased mediators. Is the logical implication that unbiased mediators should pack their bags and disengage from peace processes around the world? Not necessarily. Unbiased mediators need to recognize their limitations in order for them to also find out how they can be part of a successful peace-making process. We have seen earlier in this book that biased mediators seem to be associated with the core peace institutions in civil wars. Yet, it is important here to recap and bear in mind the implications of an important coding decision in the empirical analysis: When there are several mediators present, a mediation intervention has been coded as biased if there is at least one actor involved who is biased. This implies that in several cases of biased mediation efforts, there were actually formal or informal coalitions of mediators, consisting of both biased and unbiased mediators. Hence, biased mediators seem to increase the chance for concessions on the central incompatible dimensions of conflicts, but that does not necessarily require that they need to be the sole mediators. In other words, even if biased mediators seem to be necessary for peace processes to unfold constructively, there is still room for unbiased peacemakers to contribute to that process. In this section we will therefore discuss how that can be done. In particular, I will discuss what can be seen as four models of contemporary peacemaking for unbiased mediators that build on the insight that it is crucial to have the biased mediators involved in order to achieve agreement on the basic peace institutions. The models are Model 1: Act as the biased mediators do, Model 2: Transform external supporters into biased mediators, Model 3: Coordinate and collaborate with biased mediators, and Model 4: Provide a framework for differently biased mediators. These are all mediation efforts that, to some extent, have internalized and built upon the basic analysis that biased mediators are
needed for the main transformations to come about, but do not negate engagement from unbiased mediators. In this section, I will utilize empirical cases to illustrate how these models can function within the reality of contemporary conflicts, in particular focusing on the International Contact Group in the Philippines, Martti Ahtisaari’s mediation efforts in Indonesia (Aceh), the Swedish mediation efforts between PLO and the US, and the UN in Cambodia.