Pain, pressure and political cover: Explaining mediation incidence


Journal Article

This article explores the effect of domestic and international politics on the choice of mediation as a conflict management strategy in international crises. Existing work has yet to fully explore how domestic and international audiences shape the combatants' preferences for mediation. With regard to domestic pressures, combatants often desire mediation as political cover for unpalatable concessions. That is, intermediaries might obscure responsibility for disappointing outcomes or signal the prudence of compromise. In terms of international audiences, affected third parties eager to shape the resolution outcome might lobby to serve as a mediator. Since both domestic and international audiences are affected by the crisis severity, the article also explores how the pain of fighting conditions the effect of international and domestic political pressures. Empirical analysis of international crises since World War I confirms that potential domestic audience costs for seeking peace and the propensity for concessions positively affect the probability of mediation. Less clear is the role of third-party incentives; the results indicate that a higher potential for neighboring-state intervention actually decreases the likelihood of mediation. Consistent with previous studies, conflict costs increase mediation incidence, and the findings also indicate that at high costs of conflict, states appear in less need of political cover for making concessions. © The Author(s) 2010.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Beardsley, KC

Published Date

  • July 1, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 47 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 395 - 406

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1460-3578

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3433

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0022343309356384

Citation Source

  • Scopus