Cyprus: The Failure of Mediation and the Escalation of an Identity-Based Conflict to an Adversarial Impasse

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Fisher, Ronald J. (2001) Cyprus: The Failure of Mediation and the Escalation of an Identity-Based Conflict to an Adversarial Impasse , Journal of Peace Research 38(3): 307–326.

The Cyprus conflict is an intractable, identity-based conflict that has challenged the international community for over 40 years. This article provides an overview of the history and sources of the conflict, followed by a description of both official and unofficial third-party interventions. Formal mediation, primarily by the United Nations, has consistently failed to produce a settlement by which the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities could rebuild their fragile political relationship. Unofficial interventions have been limited in consistency, and their direct connection to official decisionmaking has been minimal. More recently, unofficial efforts have focused on the grass-roots level, and have engaged hundreds of influential individuals in bicommunal interactions. Nonetheless, the parties remain locked in an adversarial frame that is self-perpetuating and mutually destructive, and that might only be altered through a comprehensive and sustained unofficial track of conflict analysis and resolution that can overcome the trauma of the past and address the basic needs of the parties.