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 23: Biased mediation

Isak Svensson

Abstract

Whether unbiased or biased mediators are the most effective peacemakers in armed conflicts represents a long-running and central debate in mediation research. This chapter explores the role of bias in international mediation occurring in internal armed conflicts, that is, on the violent side of the conflict-to-crisesspectrum. The chapter takes stock of the debate around biased mediation and discusses the current controversies within it. It shows that there are four different theoretical approaches – idealist, realist, bargaining, and emancipatory – that have led to different expectations regarding the role of biased mediation. Focusing primarily on the quantitatively based research on international mediation, the chapter also discusses the research strategies and indicators that have been utilized in previous research for examining biased mediation. Moreover, it presents the current stage of the empirical evidence on biased mediation. Lastly, the chapter identifies some of the main policy implications that emerge from this field of research.

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