Devious Objectives and the Disputants' View of International Mediation: A Theoretical Framework

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Richmond, Oliver P. (1998) Devious Objectives and the Disputants' View of International Mediation: A Theoretical Framework , Journal of Peace Research 35(6): 707–722.

This article examines the process of international mediation from the perspective of the disputants. It posits that contrary to standard analyses, which tend to examine mediation from the perspective of the conflict or the third party, an examination from the point of view of the disputants provides significant insights into mediation as a form of conflict management. From an inside-out perspective, it becomes apparent that the underlying assumption that a compromise solution is the objective of the disputants involved in the mediation process is suspect. Thus, disputants may become involved in a mediation process in order to improve upon their prospects, but not necessarily in terms of a compromise with their adversary. This article argues that a mediation process carries with it a series of assets that the disputants may value in terms of their pre-negotiation objectives, rather than in terms of the compromise that the previous debates about international mediation have indicated. The disputants may therefore harbour 'devious objectives', unrelated to the attainment of a compromise solution, which might include time to regroup and reorganize; internationalization; the search for an ally; empowerment; legitimization of their negotiation positions and current status; face saving; and avoiding costly concessions by prolonging the process itself