by Hamdi Aden, Somalia
Week two is promising to be an exciting challenge and learning opportunity for participants as Dr. Joyce Neu took to the lectern yesterday morning. Participants listened enthusiastically as Dr. Neu discussed international mediation theory (the types, problems of, and preparing a mediation process), peppering the discussion with anecdotes from her training and field experience in international mediation. She talked about the main approaches to mediation, structuralist and social-psychological, and how the types and timing of mediation often depend on the stage of the conflict cycle. She noted that while the mediation process can include consecutive and concurrent strategies, it is rarely coordinated, citing the case of Kosovo and the presence of nine different mediation efforts which competed against each other and confused the parties to the conflict.
This is particularly interesting as it brings to light the notion that while the process is meant to be about assisting the parties involved in the conflict find a non-violent way to settle their dispute, there can be difficulties not only within the mediation team, but also between the different mediating groups, with the potential to derail the peace process. This could also provide the parties to the conflict an opportunity to ‘shop-around’ and seek a mediation team they might perceive is favourable to them and opt-out of processes lead by other teams. However, having multiple mediators can be an asset as it could demonstrate to the conflicting parties that there is wide spread support for the mediation process and potentially material support in implementing an agreement reached.