chapter  10
25 Pages

Protracted conflict and crisis mediation

A contingency approach
ByDavid Carment, Yiagadeesen Samy, Souleima El Achkar

Protracted conflicts are processes that take place over extended periods of time, consisting of several crisis episodes of varying frequency and intensity (Azar et al., 1978). Their multi-faceted nature and specific characteristics have important implications for crisis management. Are such conflicts as “intractable” as they are generally believed to be, and is their successful mediation difficult if not impossible to achieve? This chapter examines the effectiveness of mediation, and of mediation strategies, in preventing escalation and in reducing tensions in protracted conflict situations. We contribute to the empirical research using the contingency approach, which “regards the outcome of mediation efforts (be they successful or not) as contingent upon a number of contextual and process variables” (Bercovitch et al., 1991: 9). The contingency approach assumes the choice of third party strategy (manipulative or facilitative) is dependent on the nature of the strategies with which it must interact. There may not be a “single best” approach in a protracted conflict situation. We do not expect any specific type of mediation technique to outperform all others all the time. Indeed, results from our testing of this assumption suggest that mediation in mixed strategy form can achieve both formal agreements and address underlying tensions.1