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 14: Reputation, experience, and crisis mediation

Stephen E. Gent


Mediator experience and reputation play an important role in crisis management. Whenever possible, crisis actors prefer to bring in mediators who have both experience and expertise. Since disputants in an ongoing crisis are often uncertain about the expertise of potential mediators, they must rely upon a third party’s reputation as a proxy for its level of expertise. An analysis of past mediations in civil wars shows that third parties with prior mediation experience and recent mediation successes are more likely to be selected as conflict mediators. This reliance on reputation in the mediator selection process is beneficial in so far as it leads to the use of more effective peace brokers. However, the need for mediators to produce demonstrable achievements to bolster their reputations can potentially lead to peace agreements that reduce tensions in the short term but do not promote long-term conflict resolution.

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