The role of non-official diplomacy in a multi-track approach to peace : an alternative approach to traditional models of mediation and conflict resolution.
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis proposes that the unique and intractable nature of contemporary internal conflict has necessitated a change in the way the international community responds to violent conflict. The inadequacies of current official and state-led approaches to mediation and conflict resolution suggest that conflict practitioners must place greater emphasis on establishing a more effective, alternative approach to the processes of mediation and conflict resolution. This approach should recognise and incorporate the potential role that non-official, or non-state actors, may have to play in a co-ordinated and "multi-track" approach to peace. Using the mediation activities of the Community of Sant'Egidio, a voluntary Catholic organisation based in Rome, as an illustrative example, this study finds that non-official mediators bring a unique set of benefits to the mediation process. It argues that non-official mediators- representatives of community groups, non-governmental organisations, religious leaders, or indigenous groups, for example - therefore have the potential to make a unique contribution to conflict resolution in the post-Cold War era. The research also finds that non-official mediation is faced with several potential weaknesses, or challenges, that may compromise the effectiveness of its efforts. It concludes, however, that the effectiveness of the Sant'Egidio mediation efforts in the case of Mozambique demonstrates that those challenges can be overcome, particularly when the actors concerned recognise that their efforts must occur as part of a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to peace that incorporates both official and non-official aspects of internal conflict. It is concluded, therefore, that mediation by non-official actors differs from traditional diplomatic concepts because it encourages mutual problem solving between the parties, addresses the psychological and relational aspects of the conflict, empowers actors at all levels and attempts to attack the root causes of the conflict. As a result, non-official mediation efforts have the potential to redress the gap between current (official and state-led) approaches and the remedies necessary to meet the challenges of contemporary internal conflict.