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Abstract

One of the most important and disputed questions within the field of international mediation concerns the issue of bias. The question of bias cuts to the core of what mediation is and the ways in which mediators can help the parties reach peace. Focusing on research on the role of neutrality and bias in international peace diplomacy in civil wars, this article draws out the policy implications of my own empirically-based work on the role of bias in the mediation of internal armed conflicts. This article suggests that neutrality should not be part of the definition of mediators, and that instead type and degree of bias should be treated as independent variables. In fact, my research has shown that biased mediators, under some conditions, outperform neutral mediators, and also importantly, that it matters in civil wars to which side the mediator is biased: for the government or for the rebel-side. This does not imply that neutral mediators have no role to play in peacemaking processes around the globe: this article discusses explicitly the implications of my research on how neutral mediators should engage themselves in order to bring about peace in civil wars. The article also discusses the notion of “insider-partial”, that is, third party actors within the conflict societies and it suggested that it is important to tap these domestic resources for peace.

 

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