Resolving International Conflicts: The Theory and Practice of Mediation

Resolving International Conflicts: The Theory and Practice of Mediation

Resolving International Conflicts: The Theory and Practice of Mediation

Resolving International Conflicts: The Theory and Practice of Mediation

Synopsis

Mediation is one of the most important methods of settling conflicts in the post-Cold War world. This text represents the most recent trends in the process and practice of international mediation.

Excerpt

The ending of the Cold War and the fundamental changes that have taken place in international relations over the past few years may have altered the character or occurrence of conflict.They have not removed the causes of conflict, however, nor affected its intensity or the need to deal with it effectively.The new international system is as conflict-prone, many would argue even more so, as any previous system. The world today is literally covered with ethnic, religious, territorial, and nationalist conflicts that are as serious, costly, and intense as any in the past. And somehow they need to be managed or resolved.

Although the Cold War ended, neither history, as we were led to believe, nor conflict ended in 1990. The global changes of that year spawned a myriad of new problems, few of which require more urgent attention than the need to maintain peace and security within and between states. Regardless of whatever changes were brought about and how the distribution of power took shape, we quickly realized that conflicts were going to remain with us whether the international system was unipolar, bipolar, or multipolar. The expectation that conflicts would diminish or even disappear proved to be as erroneous as it was ephemeral. As long as conflicts are with us—and it is truly impossible to conceive of a system that will be conflict-free—the possibility of serious damage exists, as does the need to prevent or resolve such conflicts.

How, then, can we manage or resolve our conflicts? Throughout history, individuals, groups, communities, and more recently states, have searched for methods of dealing with conflict in more constructive and peaceful ways than the seemingly inevitable resort to hurling stones at each other. Some of these ways have been fairly ingenious (such as the whistling or singing competitions that we see in some communities) and others have been fairly obvious (such as talking to each other). Lying . . .

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