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 4: Preaching what we practice: defining gray zone challenges for policy makers and academics

John A. Stevenson


In this chapter, the author defends the policy and scholarly utility of two terms that have emerged from policy discourse—“gray zone” and “gray zone challenges”—when these terms are wellspecified. Conceding that the terms are extremely heterogeneous in how they currently categorize events, he distills the gray zone down to two common elements: actions that have harmful intent and play within a spectrum between war and peace brought into being by normative violations. The gray zone is explicitly depicted as a literal spectrum between ordinary competition and international crisis. Using the methodology of pragmatism and the lessons of the “practice turn,” the chapter leverages this specification of the gray zone to specify a canonical preliminary case universe and intervention in international relations research programs that have security policy implications for things like maritime disputes, interstate mediation, and international law.

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