Leanings and Dealings: Exploring Bias and Trade Leverage in Civil War Mediation by International Organizations

in International Negotiation
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Two characteristics of mediators – bias and leverage – are discussed intensively in the research on international mediation. However, whereas bias and leverage have been examined in mediation by states, relatively little is known about their role in mediation by international organizations (ios). This study provides new ways of conceptualizing io bias and leverage and utilizes unique data to measure the impact of io bias and leverage on mediation outcomes. Exploring all cases of civil war mediation by ios in the period 1975–2004, we find that ios where member states provide support to both sides in a conflict outperform ios whose member states remain disinterested. ios with significant trade leverage also increase the likelihood of mediation success. The study demonstrates that ios rarely have a neutral relationship to civil war combatants, that mediation by ios is laden with member state interests, and that such interests shape outcomes.

Leanings and Dealings: Exploring Bias and Trade Leverage in Civil War Mediation by International Organizations

in International Negotiation



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  • View in gallery
    Illustration of a simplified bargaining range with two disputants, Government and Rebels, bargaining over the distribution of a good. The conflict is mediated by an hypothetical io with eight member states, the preferences of which are located across the bargaining continuum, marked by short vertical lines
  • View in gallery
    Schematic illustrations of four types of io bias based on the configuration of member state preferences over the issue of dispute
  • View in gallery
    Distribution of ios by type of bias, mediation episodes 1975–2004
  • View in gallery
    Predicted probabilities of reaching negotiated settlement, io mediation episodes 1975–2004
  • View in gallery
    Impact of io leverage on predicted probability of negotiated settlement, io mediation episodes 1975–2004. The “rug” indicates individual observations


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