Mediation of international conflicts by third parties is as old and common as international conflict itself. Throughout history, belligerents have repeatedly turned to the aid of third parties to help them terminate their hostilities. In some instances, mediation serves as a crucial catalyst by providing the opportunity for the belligerents to reach a negotiated settlement, such as the Dayton Accord that ended the war in Bosnia in 1995 (Holbrook 1998), while in other cases it fails to produce a successful outcome, such as the Camp David negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians in 2000 (Ross 2005).
Why do some mediation activities produce peaceful outcomes while others fail to achieve success? In this study, I assess how certain characteristics of a mediator, that is, a mediators information about the disputants and a mediator’s bias towards them, affect he success of mediation of international conflicts. L Although mediation of international disputes is a common practice, our theoretical understanding Of mediation outcomes is still weak.
One off-debated factor that is argued to exert considerable influence on mediation outcomes is mediator bias (Outfall 1975; Smith 1994; Carnival and Radar 1996). Are biased mediators more effective than unbiased ones? Under what conditions are biased mediators likely to deliver peace? There is no scholarly consensus on whether and how mediator bias influences the effectiveness of mediation of international disputes (Glibber 996), Therefore, there is ample room for improvement in our theoretical understanding of mediation outcomes.
The fact that only 48 percent of mediations of international conflict between 1945 and 1995 produced A previous version of this paper Vass presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, San Diego, California, March 2006 and the Annual Meeting of Peace Science Society (International), Columbus, Ohio, November 2006. Thank Ashley Leeds, Finley and Ernie Budgerigars, Andrew Kiddy, Michael Mattes, Brian Phillips, Bill Reed, Randy Stevenson, Richard Stool and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. Data can be found at http://DVD. IQ. Harvard. Due/DVD/DVD/sis and at http://www. Sanest. Org/ data_archive/. In this study, mediation success refers to the cessation of hostilities between the disputants by the conclusion of a ceasefire agreement or a peace treaty. 2008 International Studies Association. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 350 Main street, Malden, MA 02148, LISA, and 9600 Garrisoning Road, Oxford OX SQ , UK . Electronic copy available at: http://USSR. Com/abstract=ASSESS 26 Information, Bias, and Mediation Success agreements that resulted in peace (at least in the short term) creates an additional impetus for further scholarly research on mediation outcomes. If it is our goal to increase the Success rate Of mediation activities in the international system, eve need to develop a more compelling theory of mediation outcomes. In this regard, I seek to contribute to our understanding Of mediation outcomes by assessing how a mediators bias and information about the disputants contribute to the likelihood Of mediation success. 3 identify two major reasons why the role of a mediators bias in mediation success is still a debated issue in the literature.
First, past mediation studies suffer either from the inability to generalize empirical findings that are based on few case studies or inconclusive empirical results that are based on crude operational measures off mediators bias. To remedy this situation, first establish a conceptual distinction between what I call “absolute” and “relative” bias, contend that the degree of bias a mediator has toward one of the disputants depends not only on the relationship between the mediator and the disputant but also on the mediator’s relationship with the other disputant. Al this relative bias. To create a valid and reliable estimator to bias, construct an additive index of relative bias based on a mediators conflict history, trading relationship, and alliance ties with both of the disputants. To my knowledge, this is the first scholarly attempt to distinguish relative bias from absolute bias and to design a multidimensional measure of mediator bias that is unique to each dispute.
Rather than assigning a generic “biased” or “unbiased” label to mediators of international conflict, I measure a mediators bias toward the disputants of a particular dispute in various dimensions. A second source of the existing disagreement on the effect of a mediators bias on mediation outcomes is related to what we mean by mediation. Scholars often use mediation to refer to a wide range of third part/ activities that cover the least intrusive mediation styles,4 such as information provision, as well as the most intrusive mediation styles, such as punishments to deter further violence.
Given the Wide diversity Of activities that are considered mediation, it is theoretically plausible that mediator bias might be a hindrance for some types Of mediation activities While facilitating the success Of Others. S Therefore, a more appropriate way to investigate the role of bias in mediation outcomes is to distinguish between different types of mediation activities. In this paper, focus on one particular type of mediation activity, information provision strategies, and examine the role of bias as it pertains to this particular form of mediation strategy. Whose to focus on information provision, as it is the most commonly used mediation strategy, yet there is no scholarly consensus on its effectiveness 2 The percentage of success is calculated using the International Conflict Management Dataset (Overstretch 1999). One might argue that an exclusive focus on the type of mediators to understand mediation outcomes might obscure our Longstanding of the topic, as mediation outcomes are also influenced by factors other than mediator characteristics.
I agree that other factors, such as the characteristics of disputes and / or disputants, might influence mediation outcomes?although there is no consensus as to how these variables affect mediation outcomes. However, believe that there is more value-added in examining the characteristics of mediators to understand mediation outcomes than in focusing on the nature Of disputes or disputants. The reason is that the latter factors are usually fixed. There is not much we can do to change the nature of disputes or disputants.
On the Other hand, the decision to mediate a given international crisis requires an active choice, and such choices are manipulate. International actors can choose who should mediate a given international crisis. If we improve our understanding of what kinds of mediators are good at facilitating settlements between the disputants, we may be able to provide some useful insights that will increase the likelihood that policy makers make more optimal choices in mediation of international conflicts. Use mediation tactic, mediation activity, mediation style, and mediation strategy interchangeably. Smith (1994) called this issue to our attention, and only recently empirical studies to mediation have started establishing distinctions in terms to different mediation styles and their relative effectiveness in bringing peace. For example, see Beardsley, Quinn, Bias, and Wildlife (2006). Electronic copy available at: http://USSR. Com/abstract=1456757 27 in facilitating peace. Different from other studies of mediation that evaluate the effectiveness of information provision strategies, this study recognizes hat the kind Of information a mediator has about the disputants matters when evaluating the effectiveness of information provision.
Drawing upon the bargaining theory Of war, I contend that a mediator needs to have information about the resolve and/or military capabilities of the disputants to be able to help them reduce the uncertainty responsible for bargaining failures. My measure of information reflects this observation. Develop a new measure of information based on a mediator’s diplomatic representation in the disputants’ territory, its trading relationship, and its institutionalized military alliance ties tit the disputants.
Different from past studies that evaluate the effectiveness of mediation strategies, this study provides a direct evaluation of the effect of relevant information a mediator has about the disputants on mediation success, By using a measure that is designed to capture a mediators ability to elicit relevant information about the disputants, this study sheds some light on the debate over the effectiveness of information provision strategies in The findings of this research suggest that biased mediators are more likely to deliver successful mediation outcomes than unbiased ones.
The higher the agree of bias a mediator has toward one of the disputants, the higher is the likelihood of mediation success. Similarly, find that mediators with relevant information about the disputants are more likely to produce successful outcomes than those without such information. The higher the degree of relevant information a mediator has about the disputants, the higher is the likelihood Of mediation success. This finding reiterates the centrality of private information in explaining bargaining failures.
Informed mediators are more able to ameliorate information asymmetries between the disputants and, hence, are more likely to reduce peaceful outcomes than uninformed ones. Mediator Characteristics and Mediation Outcomes define a mediation episode as the involvement of an outside state in an international conflict upon the approval of both of the disputing parties, with the aim of reducing the hostilities between the disputing parties, by facilitating the formulation and/or implementation of a negotiated settlement.
One central contention of this study is that an appropriate assessment of the role of mediator bias in mediation success requires us to distinguish among different types of mediation styles. Therefore, will first discuss different mediation styles, elaborate on the one that is the focus of this study?information provision? and identity the conditions under which information provision strategy is likely to increase mediation success. After discuss information provision strategies, examine how mediator bias operates for this mediation strategy.
One useful way to identify what mediation activities encompass is to conceptualize mediators’ activities in terms of the specific strategies they use. Mediators employ a variety of strategies in their effort to resolve international conflicts Scholars of international mediation have established different typologies of mediation tragedies (Outfall and Carton 1985; Prince 1392; Overstretch and Houston 1996). One commonly employed typology categorizes mediation strategies into three groups: communication facilitation strategies, procedural strategies, and directive strategies (Overstretch, Magnusson, and Willie 1991).
This categorization is based on a continuum ranging from the least intrusive to the most intrusive mediation styles. In the first category, a mediator acts as a communicator by promoting a resumption of dialogue between the disputants by supplying 6 fight. By relevant information, refer to information about disputants’ military abilities and their willingness to information to each of them. In the second category, a mediator acts as an organizer by organizing the size and seating of the meeting, and preparing agendas, etc.
The third category of strategies, where a mediator acts as a manipulator, entrusts a mediator with the most active role, Mediators using directive strategies intend to change the structure of the conflict by pressuring the disputants with penalties and/or positive inducements. The focus of this study is the least intrusive mediation strategy: information provision strategies. 7 1 am interested in the extent to Which the information revived by mediators facilitates negotiated settlements. An exclusive focus on information provision strategies can be justified by several reasons.
First, providing information to the disputants is one of the most extensively used and the least costly strategies a mediator employs for the resolution Of disputes (Overstretch and Houston 2000). Understanding the effectiveness of such a frequently used and cost. Effective remediation strategy is important for our overall theoretical understanding of mediation outcomes as well as for designing optimal policy prescriptions. Second, the effect of information provided by editors on mediation success is a contested topic in the literature.
On the one hand, some scholars argue that information provision is an important and effective mediation strategy (Fisher 1972; Dixon 1996; Kiddy 2003). On the other hand, others contend that mediators need to apply leverage and use side payments to facilitate successful outcomes and that the supply of information by mediators does not necessarily facilitate cooperation (Morgan 1994; Overstretch 1 996; Smith and Stay 2003). This study sheds some light on this debate by focusing on the kind of information a mediator has about the disputants. Owe that once we take into account the type of information a mediator is able to provide to the disputants, information provision turns out to be an effective strategy. How does the information provided by the mediator increase the likelihood of peace between the disputants? The mispronunciations of the peace- inducing features of information can be found in the bargaining theory of war, argue that the role of a mediators information in the resolution of a dispute needs to be framed in terms of how a mediator’s information can help ameliorate the causes of war.
Therefore, in order to understand how information and bias ark to bring about peace, we need to first understand What causes war. If states can (re)distribute the goods over which they disagree without resorting to violence, they do not have to pay the cost Of war, and thus the net benefits they derive from the settlement are higher. Why do states sometimes fail to reach the Parent-superior solution (settlement Of the dispute Without war) even though war is always ex post inefficient?
This puzzle lies at the heart of the bargaining theory of war. Using a bargaining framework, Fearer (1995) explains the conditions under which states fail to reach a peaceful settlement f disputes. According to Fearer (1995), one of the conditions under which states may fail to reach a Parent-superior solution is uncertainty, that is, the incentives to misrepresent private information about one’s resolve and/or military capabilities, The underlying reason for such an incentive is to obtain a favorable deal out to bargaining.
States want to maximize their net benefits trot cooperation, and thus they adopt tactics that they hope will encourage the other side to give concessions. To this end, a state may exaggerate its power and the availability of its outside options to persuade the other side to give in. In this context, the One might argue that isolating information provision strategies from others may obscure our understanding of the mediation process. By studying one strategy at a time, we might be missing how these strategies interact.
Although this might be true, I believe that we can build a more complete and compelling understanding Of the mediation process as a Whole by studying its parts first in isolation and then putting together the insights we gain from studying the individual parts to tease out their interactions. Presence of private information provides a suitable atmosphere for states to leaf in an attempt to get better deal. How exactly does the presence to private information lead to bargaining failure? 8 Under complete information, that is, when states are aware of the probability to winning (p) and each others costs of war (c), war is unlikely. In a take-it-or- leave it scenario, State A gives the smallest acceptable concession to State B that makes the latter indifferent between fighting and accepting the deal. However, if parties have private information about their own military capabilities and/or the cost of conflict, they will be uncertain about each others reservation points i. E. , the point that makes a party indifferent between accepting and rejecting a bargain). Uncertainty makes it difficult for State A to make an optimal concession, as it can make either too large a concession and end up with an inefficient outcome or too small a concession and provoke violence.
As uncertainty decreases, states have a better chance of locating the range of the bargaining set (i. E. , the set of mutually acceptable outcomes) and making offers that fall within this set. The bargaining theory of war implies that information provision is an important task for mediators. International mediation may facilitate negotiated settlements between the disputing states by providing relevant information and thus reducing uncertainty (see also Lake and Rothschild 1998).
Mediators may have access to information regarding one or both of the disputing states’ costs of fighting and/or probability of winning that the disputants do not have about each other. By informing the disputants about each others reservation points, mediators may help the disputants locate the bargaining set and thus increase the chances that the proposed settlement will fall within the bargaining set, Skinned and Batik (1992) describe the goal of information provision strategies as providing a “reality check” for the disputants.
Fifth disputants miscalculate their opponent’s probability to victory or resolve, a mediator can provide an objective assessment of the balance of forces between the opponents. For example, Merrill’s (1991 , 35) suggests that in the Falklands crisis, one of U. S. Secretary of State Alexander Baits tasks as a mediator was to convince the Argentinean government that Britain’s threat to use force to recover the islands was not a bluff, and the price blighting against the British would be high. The following conversation between US.
Special Envoy General Walters and Argentine President General Saltier illustrates this point: said to Saltier “General, they will fight, and they will win. They have technical means that you simply do not have. They hue an experienced career army in which everybody has been shot at, and everything else. You’ve got seventeen- year-old conscripts, some Of Whom come from tropical areas to this very cold, very unpleasant, very windy climate. ” But he was absolutely, viscerally, convinced that the British would not fight At one time he said to me, “That Oman would not dare. Said, “Mr.. President, ‘that woman’ 10 has let a number of hunger strikers 1 of her own basic ethnic origin starve themselves to death, without flickering the eyelash. I would not count on that if I were you” (Freedman and Gamma. Storehouse 1990, 176). This example illustrates that the United States as a mediator informs Argentina about two facts regarding Argentina’s opponent: England’s probability of victory and its resolve. The U. S. Mediator tells the Argentine President that it 8 For a more complete and technical discussion of how uncertainty leads to arraigning tailless, see Fearer (1995).
If commitment problems exist or issues are perceived to be indivisible, war is still possible (Fearer 1995)_ ICC The reference is to Margaret Thatcher. The reference is to hunger strikes by the ARIA prisoners. Argentina does not back down, England Will fight and Will Win the war, as England’s military capabilities are far superior to that of Argentina. In addition, the 1_1_ S. Mediator emphasizes that the costs Of possible war for England are not wry high, as England has high resolve in the Falkland Islands crisis, and thus is Willing to bear the costs Of fighting. Cue that one Of the reasons Why there is no scholarly consensus regarding the effect of a mediators provision of information on the likelihood of peace is that not all kinds of information are able to reduce bargaining failures. Information provided by mediators should be relevant to bargaining failures, that is, it should pertain to the resolve and/ or military capabilities of the disputants. If we can measure a mediator’s ability to elicit such relevant information about the disputants, we may be able to effectively demonstrate how a mediators information about the disputants brings about peace.
From this discussion, we can formulate the following hypothesis, which presents a more nuanced relationship between information provision strategies and mediation success than do the current predictions in the literature, Hypothesis I: Mediators that have relevant information about one of the disputing parties are more likely to be successful in using information provision strategies than those without relevant information. As the degree of relevant information a mediator has about the disputants increases, mediation success becomes more likely.
Is a mediator’s bias an asset or liability for a editor who uses information provision strategies? Before we can provide an answer to this question, we need to address the ongoing debate in the literature about the relationship between mediator bias and mediation outcomes. A mediator is biased if its preferences are aligned With one party or the Other. A biased mediator cares not only for ending the hostilities but also for resolving the dispute in a particular way that is commensurate With its interests.
Unbiased mediators, on the other hand, do not care about how an issue is resolved as long as peace is established. 12 Empirical and anecdotal evidence produce inconclusive results as to whether a biased mediator increases or decreases the likelihood of mediation success. Some scholars argue that biased mediation is detrimental to the success of mediation (Fisher 1995; Meek 2000; stubbles 1987; Young 1967). The proponents of this view argue that a mediator is more likely to be accepted and be more effective in persuading parties if it has no preference as to how a dispute is resolved.
An unbiased mediator is likely to be successful because it is perceived to be fair and hence trusted by the disputants (Carnival and Pursuit 1392). To the extent that a mediator is untainted by any affinity with either of the disputants, a mediator is expected to be more effective in persuading the disputants to make concessions necessary to establish peace. A biased mediator, on the other hand, is unlikely to be trusted and its proposals are less likely to be accepted by the discovered party.
While the proponents of impartiality perceive a mediator’s impartiality as the main source of its influence, the proponents of bias similarly contend that bias is a main source of mediators influence. Bias might actually increase a third party’s ability to bring peace, as mediators are accepted by the spiting parties not because they are unbiased but because of their ability to influence and 12 Carnival and Radar (1996) make a theoretical distinction between what they call “bias Of content” and “bias Of source characteristics. Bias Of content refers to a mediators favoring one disputant over the other in its proposal settlement, whereas the bias Of source characteristics refers to a mediator’s closer economic, political or cultural ties with one of the disputants. In this study, the way measure a mediator’s bias is closer to the bias of source characteristics than bias f content. Protect the interests of each party (Beets 1994; Creases and Pursuit 1985; Smith 1985: Wear and Laddered 1931). As bias contributes to a mediators capacity and desire to influence the outcome, a biased mediator should be preferred to an unbiased one.
Carnival and Radar (1996) suggest that bias might add to the mediators ability to extract concessions from the favored party. A mediator may benefit from what Carnival and Radar call a “cushioning effect. ” A mediator who needs to obtain concessions from a disputing party ought first to convince the disputant that he mediator has its interest at heart. If a mediator has close ties With one Of the disputants, it is easier for such a mediator to convince such a disputant that it is in the disputant’s interest to extend concessions to its antagonists.
Similarly, Outfall (1982) argues that a mediator who is biased in favor of one’s opponent can be advantageous, as the mediator can be expected to put pressure on its ally. Stephens (1388) suggests that one possible motivation for a disputant to accept mediation is the expectation that the mediator will convince the opponent to give concessions. The mispronunciations of the “cushioning effect” argument can be found in the cheap talk literature (Austin-Smith and Banks 2000; Calvert 1985; Myers 1998).
The theory of cheap talk suggests that a mediator’s interests should be aligned with the receiver of the advice for the latter to believe the credibility of the message. A recent formal analysis of mediation outcomes by Kiddy (2003) explicates the logic of Outfall (1982) and Carnival and Radar (1996) further by addressing the mispronunciations to their argument. 13 Drawing upon the cheap talk and credible signals literatures, Kiddy (2003) argues that a mediator needs o be biased toward the receiver of the information in order to be able to convey information in a credible way.
Kiddy (2003, 598) concludes that only a mediator who shares your policy preferences to some extent could be trusted to tell you that your opponent is likely to back down even in the absence of a significant concession. Similarly, it could be trusted if informs you that the adversary has high resolve and you should therefore give in. Therefore, biased mediators have an easier time in convincing their favored party to give concessions as the information they provide is considered credible by the latter.
Kiddy (2003) armorial shows that if a mediator is unbiased, it is unlikely to have any credibility because it has an incentive to say anything that will minimize the probability of conflict. Similarly, a mediator who is against you cannot be trusted, either. If a mediator prefers a solution that is closer to the ideal point Of your opponent than yours, and if it believes that you will give in if you think that your opponent has high resolve, the mediator has a strong incentive to tell you that your opponent has high resolve even though it knows that is not the case. Only information provided by a mediator who shares your interest is credible.
From Outfall (1982), Carnival and Radar (1996) and Kiddy (2003), we can derive the following hypothesis: Hypothesis 2: Mediators that are biased in favor of one of the disputants are more likely to be successful than unbiased mediators. The higher the degree of bias a mediator exhibits toward a disputant, the more likely is mediation success. The next section develops operational measures of a mediator’s information about the disputants and a mediators bias toward the disputants. This section is followed by a discussion of the specification of the econometric models designed o evaluate the above hypotheses and the findings of these models.