n Conflict Trends - 'Mediation with muscles or minds?' Lessons from a conflict-sensitive mediation style in Darfur

Volume 2011, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


On 22 June 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution that reaffirmed the central role mediation plays in modern-day conflict resolution. Evidence supports the underlying idea of this resolution. Mediation has occurred in 70% of all conflicts since 1945, and the probability of a peace agreement being concluded is six times more likely when third-party intermediaries are present.

However, mediation is no guarantee of a successful resolution; it can also reinforce, exacerbate and prolong conflicts. The Darfur Abuja mediation process between 2004 and 2006 - aimed at ending the war between the Darfurian rebels and the Government of Sudan (GoS), which started in 2003 - highlights the point that mediation can sometimes do more harm than good. This will be explained later in the article. By contrast, the Darfur Doha mediation process, which started in 2009 and which was still ongoing in late 2011, has been more conflict-sensitive and more successful. While it has not yet secured a durable and sustainable peace, the mediation team at Doha has been aware of the interaction of their efforts with the conflict context. This has increased rather than decreased the prospects for peace.

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