chapter  10
18 Pages

The politics of unrecognized states and the business of international peace mediation: enablers or hindrance for conflict resolution?: Antje Herrberg


States “which do not formally exist but desire to do so” pose a fundamental challenge to the international diplomatic community because they challenge the way in which international relations are being managed. The mediation of conflicts, in its various forms, has been practiced in many societies around the globe. Indeed, one could argue that conflict prevention and resolution is the greatest challenge to the international community. In 2009, more than thirty-one highly violent conflicts were being waged around the world, detrimental to human life and livelihoods (Heidelberg Institute 2009). Many of these were intrastate conflicts. This chapter seeks to critically assess the challenges to peacemaking and the practice of international peace mediation within the contextual setting of the politics of recognition and/or non-recognition. What is mediation and how is it practiced? What are its facets and who are its actors? What role does peace mediation play in intrastate conflicts that deal with unrecognized entities? To what extent and how does conflict resolution influence recognition or nonrecognition? An understanding of the practice of mediation and its strengths, opportunity and threats provides a basis for tangible venues for policy development, as well as for further areas for research. Mediation is not a practice that is exclusive to the mediation domain of intrastate conflict. Just as conflict is part of everyday life, mediation can be practiced everyday and everywhere. It is a way to reach decisions in a cooperative way, allowing for open communication processes with little or no hierarchy. The way in which people resolve conflicts has an impact upon how a society and its institutions are governed. The practice of mediation to solve disputes is an increasingly accepted method in the Western world and is, in its variety of forms, a widespread tool-for-change in conflict situations in many parts of the world. The application of mediation is transformative for people and societies engaged in conflict and is as much about the process of deliberation or the understanding of respective perspectives, empowerment, and recognition as it is about conflict resolution (Zilleßen 1999). Often, religious and spiritual underpinnings have converged with the liberal notions of peacemaking.2