Issues on Mediation
By: Mengistu Ayalew
The process of preventing and resolving conflicts is not a recent process which is exclusively a western innovation. It rather is an age old practice applied through traditional and/or religious principles and structures. However, mediation as one of the methods of conflict resolution developed in the process of handling conflicts, particularly inter-state ones. That is how it became identified as one of the methods of “Pacific Settlement of Disputes” in the UN Charter. The method became more complex and called for more creativity and flexibility when it is applied in dealing with intra-state conflicts which became more prevalent since the end of the Cold War. Cloke’s (2001) suggestion regarding effective mediation is based on the practical challenges of the principles and practices of conflict resolution applied for quite a period. Mediation can be defined as “a process of conflict management, related to but distinct from the parties’ own negotiations, where in conflict seek the assistance of, or accept an offer of help from outsider…to change perceptions or behavior, and to do so without resorting to physical force or invoking the authority of law” (Bercovitch 2007:167-168).
Cloke's idea of mediating dangerously implies the need to focus on the underlying causes of conflicts/root causes, if one thinks of achieving effective and enduring peace. The gist of his argument is transforming conflicts and mending relationships rather than attempting “suppressing” or “settling” conflicts. The latter aims at bringing together conflicting parties and convince or pressurize them to sign agreements or attain short-fixes. Cloke underscore the wisdom of going deeper to the issues that matter a lot. In his words: “As mediators, we need to be willing to be willing to bring deep, dangerous level of honesty and empathy to the dispute resolution process” (5). By doing so, he contends that avoiding the seemingly...