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Regional Influences on Mediation Behavior

In: International Negotiation
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  • 1 Department of Political Science, University of AlabamaTuscaloosa, AL 35487USAdfrazier@ua.edu
  • | 2 Department of International Affairs, University of GeorgiaThird Floor, Candler Hall, Athens, GA 30602USAaowsiak@uga.edu
  • | 3 Department of International Affairs, University of GeorgiaThird Floor, Candler Hall, Athens, GA 30602USAvhs@uga.edu
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Research on interstate mediation tends to assume (implicitly) that regional factors have little effect on the occurrence of mediation. We relax this assumption and advance an explicit regional theory of mediation in which regional ties create a type of bias that motivates both (potential) third parties to mediate conflicts within their region and disputants to select or accept these regional actors as mediators more frequently than non-regional actors. This bias first appears when states belong to the same region. In such situations, the potential third party and disputants likely understand one another better and share common security concerns. Yet regional membership does not explain the variation in mediation behavior within regions. To account for this, we argue that regionally more powerful states, as well as those that share (regional) institutional memberships with the disputants, have greater incentives to mediate than some regional counterparts. We empirically test the effect of these characteristics on the likelihood of mediation in militarized interstate disputes during the period 1946–2000. Our findings uncover support for our argument and suggest that accounting for regional bias is important in explaining mediation patterns in interstate conflict.

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