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 26: Concluding themes and policy recommendations

David Quinn, Kyle Beardsley and Jonathan Wilkenfeld


In this concluding chapter, we pull together the main findings of each of the chapters and group them so as to capture both the central scholarly themes of the Research Handbook and those insights that we believe will be of particular relevance to the policy community. Readers are encouraged to focus in on those themes that pique their interest, and then go to those parts of the Research Handbook, identified by the authors working on those themes, for more detailed explication of these themes. A major theme of this Research Handbook has been that crises in the international system have become increasingly complex over time and are perhaps even more complicated nowadays than during the pinnacle of ethnic conflict during the early to mid-1990s. This is exemplified most clearly by the dizzying array of actors and interests involved in recent crises in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Ukraine. The trend toward increasing complexity can largely be attributed to a related increase in crises with characteristics of “gray zone” conflicts, a recent term developed to describe crises and conflicts that contain elements of both international rivalry, including among great powers, and domestic conflict, in which actors deliberately keep hostilities at a level short of war and act via proxy in order to avoid attribution and undesirable international attention.

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