Research Handbook on Mediating International Crises
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Research Handbook on Mediating International Crises

Edited by Jonathan Wilkenfeld, Kyle Beardsley and David Quinn

Current conceptions of mediation can often fail to capture the complexity and intricacy of modern conflicts. This Research Handbook addresses this problem by presenting the leading expert opinions on international mediation, examining how international mediation practices, mechanisms and institutions should adapt to the changing characteristics of contemporary international crises.
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Chapter 3: Mediating complex crises

Kyle Beardsley, David Quinn and Jonathan Wilkenfeld


This chapter focuses on mediation in the midst of an evolving international system and the ways in which the practice of mediation has changed and could stand to change more in order to increase its effectiveness in managing and resolving crises. Increasingly, when crisis mediation occurs, it will involve multiple attempts. While instances of mediation have declined in recent years, it is actually more likely to occur in crises in which many actors are involved and where there is a mixture of state and non-state actors. The authors find that the ability for mediators to assist the crisis actors in reaching an agreement or otherwise attenuating their hostilities does not decline much under such conditions. This has clear implications for gray zone conflicts, which often involve many actors, including state and non-state ones, and potential spillover of intrastate to interstate crises. Mediation is most likely to occur when these increasingly common gray zone conditions are present. The authors also find that mediators tend to be more effective in crises nested in protracted conflicts.

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