Mediating International Crises

» by Kristina Roepstorff

The Charter of the United Nations states in Article 33, paragraph 1: 'The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.' The principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes has therefore been included in various international declarations, resolutions and conventions . In this essay I want to look at mediation as one specific form of pacific settlement of international disputes, especially in the context of international crises. Mediation in international crises as a third-party intervention seeks to prevent the escalation of conflicts. The aim of mediation is to find a compromise between the parties involved in the conflict and to end it by peaceful means and prevent violent consequences.

But how does mediation in international conflicts work? What are the differences between this specific form of dispute settlement and other forms like negotiation, arbitration? When is the use of mediation appropriate, what are the conditions? In order to discuss these questions, I will first analyse the theory and practice of mediation and differenciate it from other forms of dispute settlement. After having defined mediation in general, I will outline the form mediation takes in international disputes. I will distinguish between disputes and conflicts, as this is important for the understanding of how mediation works in a particular situation, like international crises. I will then in a next step look at the conditions for the application of mediation in international crises. As an example for international crises, I will focus on mediation of civil wars. This will then lead to the central question of my essay: to what extend can it be said that mediation is a successful mean to the peaceful settlement of international crises, in particular of civil wars?

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