The Impact of Relationship Dynamics on Third-Party Coordination: Perceptions of Third-Party Practitioners in Nepal and the Philippines

In: International Negotiation
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  • 1 National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, G.P.O. Box 5714, Kathmandu, New Zealand

A growing field within mediation research explores issues of third-party coordination. The existing literature highlights third-party coordination as a problematic but extremely important conflict intervention strategy, but lacks an in-depth explanation of fundamental aspects of third-party coordination. Considering this research gap, this study explores a fundamental theme related to third-party coordination: the influence of third-party relationship dynamics. This theme is elaborated by means of an analysis of two case studies: the Maoist armed conflict of Nepal and the Moro conflict of the Philippines. My research finds that power differences among third parties, their attitudes towards each other, differences in intervention strategies and priorities, the nature of conflicts, and the actions taken by the conflicting parties are key contextual factors that influence the dynamics of third-party relationships. Successful coordination is more likely when there is interdependence and a sense of respect between third parties.

Abstract

A growing field within mediation research explores issues of third-party coordination. The existing literature highlights third-party coordination as a problematic but extremely important conflict intervention strategy, but lacks an in-depth explanation of fundamental aspects of third-party coordination. Considering this research gap, this study explores a fundamental theme related to third-party coordination: the influence of third-party relationship dynamics. This theme is elaborated by means of an analysis of two case studies: the Maoist armed conflict of Nepal and the Moro conflict of the Philippines. My research finds that power differences among third parties, their attitudes towards each other, differences in intervention strategies and priorities, the nature of conflicts, and the actions taken by the conflicting parties are key contextual factors that influence the dynamics of third-party relationships. Successful coordination is more likely when there is interdependence and a sense of respect between third parties.

* Prakash Bhattarai holds a doctoral degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Otago, New Zealand. His doctoral research focused on assessing the coordination dynamics of third-party intervention in conflict-affected countries. He holds Master’s degrees in Population Studies (Tribhuvan University, Nepal, 2005) and in Peace Studies (University of Notre Dame, usa, 2010), and has been a visiting scholar (April-June 2013) at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden.

Approximately half of all mediation efforts around the world since the mid-1990s have included more than one third party (Beber 2010, Lindgren, Wallensteen, & Grusell 2010). With this increase in the number of third parties, the issue of third-party coordination has grown in importance. The existing literature highlights the potential of third-party coordination to contribute positively to conflict resolution, and poor coordination as a contributor to mediation failure (Crocker, Hampson, & Aall 2001, Crocker, Hampson, & Aall 2002, Kriesberg 1996, Nan 2003). It also confirms that coordination does not happen regularly or easily, given the competing policy and strategic interests of third parties.

This article argues that, while the nature and characteristics of third-party relationships have an important influence on the occurrence and outcomes of coordination, the ways in which third-party relationship dynamics influence coordination behaviors have not been adequately addressed in the existing conflict management literature. Third-party relationships are defined as the process by which a broad cross-section of third parties attempt to work together for conflict resolution in various stages of conflicts. The frequency of collective involvement in interventions,1 the comprehensiveness of interactions and communication processes, and perceptions of and attitudes towards each other are key indicators by which to assess the efficacy of third-party relationships in peace processes. Symmetrical dialogue and communication praxis among third parties on issues around adopting a common intervention strategy can make third-party relationships stronger. Alternatively, the lack of such practices can make their relationships weaker and even counterproductive.

By presenting the experiences and perspectives of third-party practitioners and other relevant stakeholders in real-world conflicts, specifically Nepal and the Philippines, this article is able to explore key factors that influence the dynamics of third-party relationships. In particular, it identifies factors that are crucial to the relationship dynamics between local and external third parties, among external third parties, and among local third parties.

The findings presented in this article have the potential to make a contribution to both theory and policy in the area of third-party coordination. One major contribution relates to the examination of the dynamics of third-party relationships not only in their official-unofficial dimension, but from multiple perspectives. Here third-party relationships are segregated into discrete subsets – external-local, external-external, and local-local – and indicators are identified that have the potential to influence third-party relationship dynamics.

A unique aspect of this research is that it highlights the perceptions and experiences of a wide range of third-party practitioners on the ground, from two distinct conflict contexts, regarding their relationships with other third parties. Their narratives are grounded in conflict resolution praxis. Overall, this research reveals that the construction of third-party relationships in different subsets is largely determined by their power differences and traditional rivalries, their attitudes towards each other, differences in intervention strategies and priorities, and actions taken by third parties and conflicting parties.

Theoretical Explanations of Third-party Actors and Their Relationships

A broad spectrum of individuals, states, and external or local agencies may perform the role of third-party intervener in armed conflicts and peace processes. External third parties are generally nation-states, coalitions of states, transnational or subnational organizations, ad hoc commissions, or any actor with international standing (Dixon 1996). Local third parties may consist of a “person with particular status who can transcend the conflict divides, such as individuals with religious roles, retired statesmen or even businessmen” (Wallensteen 2012: 289). Third parties have also been recognized based on special characteristics and roles in civil conflicts, such as official and non-official third parties, power and pure interveners, official diplomats, private facilitators, and track-one and track-two diplomats. Official third parties may be the United Nations (un), nation states or an association of nation states (Babbitt 2006, Böhmelt 2010, Fisher 2006, Grozev and Boyadjiev 2005), whereas unofficial third parties may be to ngos, international institutions, civil society organizations, business groups, conflict resolution professionals, academic and religious groups or former government officials (Babbitt 2006, Böhmelt 2010, Fisher 2006, Grozev and Boyadjiev 2005, Gurkaynak 2007).

For the purpose of this research, third-party interveners include nation states, regional and global powers, the un and its specialized agencies, multilateral agencies, bilateral agencies, international peacebuilding organizations, and local civil society organizations, which are engaged in various phases of conflicts and in various capacities, such as formalized intervention mechanisms mandated by the conflicting parties, or informal involvement.

A tentative consensus in the literature is that third-party coordination can be a useful approach for resolving conflicts and systematically supporting peace processes. Scholars have offered many proposals for how third-party coordination should take place to be most effective (Crocker, Hampson, and Aall 2002, Iji 2005, Kriesberg 1996, Paris 2009, Strimling 2006, Zartman 2004). Previous research has also focused on issues such as the advantages and disadvantages of third-party coordination (Beber 2010, Iji and Fuchinoue 2009, Kriesberg 1996, Nan and Strimling 2006, Sisk 2002, Strimling 2006), and the factors impeding third-party coordination (Crocker, Hampson, and Aall 2002, Griffiths and Whitfield 2010, Iji and Fuchinoue 2009, Iji 2005, Miall 2004).

Although the existing literature captures important aspects of third-party coordination, the issue of third-party relationships and their impact on coordination has not yet received the attention it deserves. However, the literature does provide a clear indication that the occurrence of coordination requires a healthy, positive relationship among third parties. For example, Nan (2003) discusses the need for strong relationships and interconnections between various actors, Jackson (2005) highlights the importance of early and continuous consultation, and Aydin & Regan (2012) conclude that intervening states in cooperative relationships have been more successful in terminating wars than those that compete with each other to increase their influence over the combatants. Bohmelt (2010) argues that a history of conflicting relationships between mediators makes their efforts less effective, whereas a cooperative relationship history makes their interventions more successful. Nan & Strimling (2004) contend that coordination works well once there are defined roles, trust and respect among interveners. Lederach (1999) notes the interdependence gap in peacebuilding efforts as one of the key challenges to a coordinated relationship of respect and understanding, especially between higher levels and grassroots levels of leadership.

Although all of these scholars highlight relationship dynamics as an important causal variable that affects coordination processes, they nonetheless fail to clearly spell out the underlying conditions that determine how and why these relationship dynamics impact third-party coordination. Further, while the relationships between official and unofficial third parties in conflict resolution do receive some attention in the existing literature (Böhmelt 2010, Chataway 1998, Chigas 1997, Fisher 2006, Kriesberg 1991, Kraft 2000), these studies do not provide a comprehensive picture of third-party relationship dynamics, because official-unofficial relationships are just one subset of the dynamics of third-party relationships.

Beyond the conflict management literature, critical peace studies literature also speaks of the relationships between third-party actors in conflict resolution. Critical peace studies scholars have used the term hybridity to describe the composition, structure and characteristics of the interactions and relationships among different peacebuilding actors, from the local to the international level (Mac Ginty 2010, Mac Ginty and Sanghera 2012, Millar 2014, Millar, Lijn, and Verkoren 2013, Peterson 2012). Jarstad and Belloni (2012) note that there is typically a confrontational relationship between local and external peacebuilding actors, and that this often motivates them to impose their own values, norms and practices upon each other. If they compromise in the end, hybridity occurs. This interpretation assumes that hybridity can be taken for granted in various peacebuilding efforts. It describes the ability of local and external actors to develop the capacity to work together and even to resist each other when necessary. The notion of hybridity can provide a useful basis for exploring the dynamics of relationships between the various third-party actors mentioned above.

The Cases

This article critically evaluates third-party relationship dynamics within the Maoist armed conflict of Nepal and the Moro conflict of the Philippines. The selection of the cases was guided by their relevance for assessing the dynamics of third-party relationships and their impact on coordination in conflict resolution efforts.

An armed conflict erupted in Nepal on 13 February 1996. The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (cpn, Maoist)2 instigated an armed struggle by perpetrating violent attacks on police posts and government offices in the hilly districts of mid-western Nepal. The Maoists promulgated three broad objectives: eradicating the capitalist class and the state system that had traditionally existed; abolishing the monarchy3 that protected and promoted feudalism; and establishing a democratic republic ruled by the people (Mahat 2005). This armed conflict lasted for ten years and ended in November 2006 after the government and the Maoists signed a comprehensive peace agreement.

Due to the presence of a multiplicity of third-party interveners, the Maoist armed conflict of Nepal and its current peace process is a relevant case for assessing third-party relationship dynamics. It is estimated that more than 600 non-governmental organizations (ngos) in Nepal are directly engaged in the peace process. Nearly 50 bilateral and multilateral donor agencies and more than 100 international ngos (ingos) are active in Nepal and many of these have focused on supporting the peace process (ia 2006). The un and its specialized agencies have also intervened actively in Nepal, both during the conflict and in the post-agreement period (Dahal 2005). Additionally, both official and unofficial external third parties, such as non-governmental peacemakers, India, China, the United States (u.s.), the European Union (eu), and other Western donors have been involved in the intervention process since 2000, encouraging dialogue between the conflicting parties, sharing experiences from other conflict settings and giving support to the negotiation process (Whitfield 2008).

The Moro conflict of the Philippines is another relevant case for this research. It comprises two separatist Muslim rebellions concentrated in Mindanao, in the southern part of the Philippines: conflict between the Government of the Philippines (gph) and the Moro National Liberation Front (mnlf), and between the gph and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (milf). During the two-and-a-half decades of sporadic war between the government and the mnlf rebels, there were several negotiation efforts. The Tripoli Agreement of 1976 was the key outcome of those negotiations. However, the agreement could not be put into place, resulting in intermittent war until 1995. With a great deal of mediation and other intervention strategies by the member countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (oic), both the government and the mnlf leaders agreed to revisit the Tripoli Agreement and signed a new peace deal in 1996.

The milf, a splinter group from the mainstream mnlf, was dissatisfied with the 1996 peace agreement and the moderate stance taken by the mnlf regarding the future autonomy (‘Bangsamoro homeland’) of the Muslim population of Mindanao. The milf thus entered into a separate but related armed resistance against the Manila government in early 1997. This armed struggle continued for almost 13 years, with intermittent breaks in fighting. The last ceasefire went into effect in November 2009, leading to a Framework Agreement in October 2012 and a comprehensive peace agreement in March 2014, with significant contributions by local and external third parties.

Thus far in the gph-milf peace process, a significant number of local and external third parties have been involved in both formal and informal capacities. Malaysia was involved as a facilitator of the high-level negotiation process since 2001, while four countries (Japan, the uk, Turkey and Saudi Arabia) and four international organizations (the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, The Asia Foundation, Conciliation Resources, and Muhamaddiyah) have been involved as members of the International Contact Group (icg) since 2009, providing support to the high-level negotiations. An additional formal intervention structure, the International Monitoring Team (imt), works mainly at the local level to monitor different aspects of the peace process, particularly civilian protection, human rights protection, socio-economic progress, rehabilitation and security. imt members include Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Norway and the eu, as well as the Nonviolent Peace Force, Mindanao People Caucus and Mindanao Human Rights Action Centre. Significant numbers of civil society organizations and networks of ngos are also involved as local third-party actors, and there is further involvement by bilateral donors, such as Australia, and multilateral agencies, such as the World Bank. This plethora of actors makes it a fascinating case study for examining the dynamics of third-party relationships, and this conflict has not yet been studied in this regard.

These two cases provide an opportunity to evaluate the differences in third-party relationships and their impact on coordination behaviours. The Moro conflict of the Philippines and the Maoist armed conflict of Nepal are similar in terms of the diversified nature of third-party interveners. However, they are dissimilar in terms of the characteristics of the conflicts and the nature of third-party involvement. The Moro conflict has been characterized as an identity-based protracted conflict, stretching back for the past 40 years, while the Maoist conflict is an ideology-based short-term conflict, having lasted only for about ten years. Regarding the scope of these conflicts, the Moro conflict has been focused largely on Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines. By contrast, the Maoist armed conflict is nationwide. Regarding third-party engagement, the Moro conflict has been negotiated by the formal and direct engagement of external third parties, whereas the Maoist conflict has been negotiated by the limited facilitation of local actors and the indirect but active involvement of external third parties. They are also geographically and culturally different, as one conflict occurred in South Asia and the other in Southeast Asia.

Research Approach

This study utilizes a multiple case-study research method structured around the concurrent observation of two cases from two different conflict settings. It mainly adopts a theory building approach, which enables the construction of new perspectives on issues around the dynamics of third-party relationships in conflict intervention. Using a semi-structured questionnaire approach, primary data was collected during three months of field research in Kathmandu, Nepal (December 2011 to February 2012), and two months of field research in Manila and Mindanao, Philippines (July–August 2012). Altogether 83 face-to-face interviews were conducted in the field: 40 in Nepal and 43 in the Philippines. Interviewees were drawn from political party leaders, peace panel members, peace dialogue facilitators, representatives of diplomatic missions, un officials, representatives of donor agencies, ingos and ngos that are serving or have served as third-party interveners. The research findings are gleaned from the content analysis and interpretation of in-depth interviews with key informants in each case, as well as relevant secondary sources of information. Since the majority of the research participants did not wish to disclose their identities, all identities of research participants are withheld in order to maintain uniformity in the referencing system. However, some participant identities have been disclosed in my recently completed doctoral dissertation.

Empirical Analysis

To answer the research question and check the validity of arguments mentioned above, this section provides a detailed analysis of the various relationship dynamics observed in each case. It is divided into three parts, each elaborating on a subset of third-party relationship dynamics: (1) between local and external third parties; (2) between external third parties; and (3) among local third parties. The relationship dynamics presented here are based on the overall impressions of third-party practitioners interviewed in the field.

The Relationship between Local and External Third Parties
Local-external Third-party Relationships in Nepal

A number of research respondents representing local third parties expressed that there was often a lack of friendly relationships between local and external third parties involved in the conflict in Nepal. The dominating nature of external third parties was a major contributing factor. Two respondents, members of a local ngo, stated that the attitude of external third parties toward local third parties is demeaning, as they treat them as if they do not understand the political context or the evolution of the peace process in Nepal (Interviews N-25 & N-30 2012). The domineering style of the external third parties is perceived to be partly the result of the greater resources available to them and partly due to their wide range of conflict resolution experience, which the local third parties do not share:

Local third party respondent: Coordination depends on the attitude of different actors who are now engaged in the peace process . . . We would be happy to coordinate with external interveners, if they think that there are people in Nepal who are well informed about [the] Nepalese context . . . good attitudes of outsiders encourage us to coordinate with them (Interview N-30 2012).

Another factor behind the lack of harmonious local-external third-party relationships is the difficulty the parties had in accessing each other. While external third parties can easily reach local third parties, the latter often find it much harder to approach external third parties. A respondent from the ngo Federation Nepal noted, “Relatively, local third parties have a good relationship with other local third parties; their access to international actors is not very good” (Interview N-39 2012). In a few exceptional cases some local third parties, particularly those that are closely allied with the top leaders of one or both conflicting parties and are working on the so-called ‘hard’ issues of the peace process, such as security, were able to form a good relationship with external third parties. In this regard, one of the respondents affiliated with a Kathmandu-based think-tank stated:

We have shared most frequently with European Ambassadors, India, the uk and the u.s. government . . . and with China to some extent . . . We have [an] information-sharing level of coordination with international actors who are concerned about this [security] issue . . . Since we are directly working with stakeholders of the peace process and we have an informal agreement with them about the confidentiality of our intervention, only a very few organizations at the local level know about what we are doing on this issue (Interview N-28 2012).

Competing and conflicting relationships have also been found to characterize local-external third-party relations in Nepal. Such conflicting relationships have been observed even when both sets of actors engage in similar kinds of interventions with more or less similar institutional mandates given by the conflicting parties. The contentious relationship between the National Human Rights Commission (nhrc) of Nepal and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (ohchr) is a relevant example. The mandate of both the nhrc and the ohchr has been to monitor human rights violations during the conflict (from mid-2005 onward) and in the post-agreement period. The nhrc, a local third-party, felt that there was no need for the ohchr to perform the same task that a local institution was capable of undertaking. The ohchr wanted to work with a broader mandate, as they had earned a strong local and international reputation for their human rights monitoring work in Nepal, particularly during the period of conflict and right after the ceasefire, in 2005 and 2006 (Interviews 2012). Rivalry between the nhrc and the ohchr continued until the termination of the ohchr mandate in December 2011. An external conflict expert working in Nepal shared the following observation:

Two main human rights bodies, ohchr and the nhrc . . . did not have a good relationship . . . they saw each other as rivalries. I think it’s a turf issue as nhrc felt they don’t need an international body while local bodies are there . . . There is lots of politics . . . There is that kind of awkward relationship and maybe that’s one of the reasons why the ohchr mandate was always so tenuous (Interview N-23 2012).

Some local third parties accused the external third parties of having a ‘victory-sharing’ mentality, as they did not enter the conflict system immediately after its eruption, but waited until the conflict ripened so that it would be easier to resolve. One respondent, who heads a Kathmandu-based human rights ngo, expressed the following:

International actors were attracted to actively intervene in Nepal’s conflict when the conflict was leading towards settlement. They did not play any effective role when the country was experiencing [an] intense level of violence. It was local third parties intervening in conflict during the time of intense war (Interview N-25 2012).

Another common local third-party accusation is related to external third parties’ interests in advancing their own agendas rather than addressing the actual needs of the country. Local third parties defined this as a ‘commitment problem’ for external third parties. Some of the respondents also suggested that the external-local relationship was based on a specific need in a particular period, rather than on an actual motivation to coordinate. A respondent representing a local ngo stated:

Our collaboration with others is guided by . . . whether it becomes necessary to solve or pay attention to a particular national issue or not. Working with outside actors means to gain expertise, which we are lacking at the national level (Interview N-30 20012).

Local third parties were also quite critical of the imbalanced partnerships they had with international actors. Local third parties felt that external parties were contributing to their own agendas, rather than to actual local agendas related to the peace process. A respondent from a Kathmandu-based human rights ngo expressed the following:

The international community works with local civil society, but they do not work with the agenda of local civil society. [The] international community brings their agendas and encourages local actors to develop a project according to their guidelines and requests us to submit a proposal. They often provide support for 2–3 years then they stop. It means that they have not given us an opportunity to design peacebuilding projects based on the local needs; in fact, we are compelled to work to advance their peace agenda. In principle, it seems like we have a good coordination with them because we are partnering with external interveners. In a practical sense, we are not coordinating (Interview N-25 2012).

In contrast, external third-party respondents highlighted the interdependence between local and external third parties. An external third-party practitioner and a representative of a European diplomatic mission in Nepal made these comments:

Third party practitioner: International donors for credibility, for access . . . need local actors. They are useless at institutional level and at personal level if they do not have local partners (Interview N-23 2012).

Diplomat: In Nepal, things are complicated for the international [interveners]. They [local ngos] can definitely know [the context and problem] better than the international. Then also in terms of ownership, but also for the sustainability of the project, because many of the internationals at one point . . . go. While national ngos . . . do not go. They also have a better relationship with the government. They have better negotiating power and challenge the government (Interview N-26 2012).

A number of respondents observed that funding-based relationships are the most common basis for coordination between local and external third parties. However, this was often limited to a set period of time and dominated by the most powerful third parties – the donors. Sharing information is another area of coordination, but it has mostly been one-sided, as local third parties feel that they share information about the political context but then do not hear back from the externals. An interviewee at the ngo Federation Nepal stated that external interveners frequently consulted them in order to understand the perspectives of civil society in the peace process, yet they never received information and political analysis from the external interveners. This indicates that while external third parties have used local third parties as a key source of information, there is little reciprocity.

Clearly the perception of local third parties towards external third parties is not very positive or praiseworthy. Ironically, although local third parties are critical of the policies and strategies of external third parties, they still maintain relationships at different levels, such as implementing joint projects, exchanging information and getting involved in issue-based coordination. By contrast, external third parties are much more positive about their relationships with local third parties. For political and strategic reasons, external third parties cannot ostensibly undermine local ownership in the peace process, and some have adopted a more balanced approach to their relationships with local third parties.

Local-external Third-party Relationships in the Philippines

Local third parties have given mixed responses regarding their relationships with external third parties involved in the Moro conflict. On a positive note, local third parties recognize the importance of external third parties in the gph-milf peace process, as they have been instrumental in internationalizing the conflict issues. They also believe that the ‘mere presence’ of external third parties has been beneficial in making the government more committed to a negotiated solution. Respondents acknowledge the interdependence of local and external third parties, particularly in terms of monitoring the ceasefire and the implementation of peace programs. Local third parties have been highly supportive of the work of external third parties in such endeavors. But locals are not happy when the credit for their joint work goes to the external third parties. Local third-party respondents had this to say:

[Local third parties] are vital players in the peace process, but it seems to me sometimes that it’s the internationals that get all the credit and locals don’t, which is a shame . . . The thing is, with credit comes resources (Interview P-4 2012).

The locals don’t have a choice except to work closely with international institutions to have the funding necessary. As far as the international institutions are concerned, they really don’t have a choice except to work with the locals, [who] are the ones who do the work (Interview P-4 2012).

Despite the perceived interdependence of the local-external actors, some respondents expressed the view that the potential contribution of local third parties to the peace process is undermined by the presence of external third parties. They stated that while they sometimes think of externals as partners or supporters of their cause, at other times they see them as competitors:

Local third party: We are their partners. For example, in our peacebuilding program it is the Nonviolence Peace Force that is our partner on the ground. On some of our programs like the rehabilitation aspect, it’s the jica [Japan International Cooperation Agency] who’s our partner. In the advocacy we have always a close relationship with imt . . . Yet sometimes we also see that these ingos become competitors of the local ngos . . . To us this is not fair (Interview P-33 2012).

Turf battles over resources also adversely affect the relationship between local and external third parties. Many local actors think that external third parties, particularly the ingos, exercise undue control over the small amount of resources allocated to conflict resolution efforts in Mindanao, which are supposed to be controlled by local organizations. One local third-party respondent said, “I don’t mind if . . . [external third parties] come in as long as they bring their own money. But [if] they get their resources . . . from the embassy . . . [resources] which could have been allocated to local groups, then I have a problem with that” (Interview P-24 2012).

In addition, the tendency of externals to directly implement projects at the local level is perceived as another threat to local ownership of the peace process. One respondent said, “Some international organizations which are implementing projects . . . [are] a threat [to us] . . . This adds to the competition in getting resources for the projects of local organizations” (Interview P-34 2012). It is also a concern that external third parties, particularly the international organizations, are destroying local ngos’ capacities by taking their most competent human resources. One respondent said:

There are also problems of the presence of the international organizations; they don’t consider the situation of the local civil society groups. The local groups suffer from financial constraints. They cannot pay more for their personnel, unlike the international organizations. We had experienced already that some key staff . . . left the organization to work for ingos, [where] they are highly paid. This affects the normal flow of the work of the local organizations (Interview P-32 2012).

On the other hand, some local third parties who have a close relationship with the Moro rebel groups are positive about their relationship with external third parties. One respondent, who belongs to a Moro-led ngo, made this comment:

Because of the longer time spent in the negotiations, we have several observations . . . International figures who are involving themselves in finding a lasting solution to this issue are very much appreciated by the wider community of the Bangsamoro, in the sense that we feel it [is] very effective. Since secession of hostilities between both parties, little by little hostilities trimmed down to zero, so there was no encounter between the government forces and the milf. The hostilities were brought down also because of the participation of international personalities (Interview P-36 2012).

Resource concentration in Moro-dominated regions in recent years, and external third parties’ preference for working with Moro-led ngos, are major reasons for why these organizations accept external third parties in Mindanao. Several respondents from non-Moro ngos maintain that some external third parties prefer to work with Moro-led ngos in order to capture the attention of the milf (Interview P-20 2012).

Local third parties are at times opposed to the heavy international involvement in the peace process because they believe that external involvement does more harm than good, especially when external organizations lack knowledge and understanding of the conflict context, even if they have conflict resolution experience from other conflict settings. These local third parties suggest that they should lead the intervention process, while external third parties should only provide the necessary back up (Interviews 2012).

By contrast, external third parties appear quite receptive to relationships with local third parties, and most seem aware of how important it is to win the hearts and minds of local organizations in order to continue being active in Mindanao. They acknowledge that local third parties are an invaluable component of the peace process. One respondent who belongs to an ingo said, “The locals have their roles and value in the process. Their roles are even more important than ours . . . Our role is really to help them” (Interview P-15 2012). Another external respondent stated, “We respect the primacy role of local actors/local cbos [Community Based Organizations], csos, and other actors on the ground” (Interview P-31 2012).

There are obvious reasons for the positive attitude of external third parties toward local third parties. First, external third parties, particularly those working at grassroots level, are well aware that they cannot function properly without strong support from local actors. Even those working at the national level rely on local third parties to provide updates on the conflict situation on the ground, and to understand popular sentiment about the peace process. Second, recognizing local third parties also means respecting local ownership of the peace process; such respect makes external third parties’ presence more acceptable:

External third party: From our side, what we do is as much as possible enable the local ownership. Sometimes it is uncomfortable being in a structure where we are wondering if we are not undermining local ownership . . . All of the actors in the icg are deeply connected and networked with a wide range of local actors (Skype Interview P-17 2012).

Third, external third parties are well aware of domestic sentiment regarding international third-party engagement in the peace processes and know that they cannot function effectively if they antagonize locals. A respondent from the icg stated:

In the Philippines, there is this sentiment of not allowing the foreigners to be involved in the process too much. And that kind of nationalism is exclusive . . . The civil society is the same, they are very strong and very clear that this process is their peace process, and it doesn’t belong to us . . . they will work it out. The Moros will work out their part. The Philippines government will work out their part. That’s why it’s critical in the talks [that] icg doesn’t talk in the talks (Interview P-16 2012).

Lastly, international third parties are also aware that local third parties are not always happy with active and influential external actors because this suggests that locals have not found a meaningful role in the peace process. One of the respondents from the icg commented:

They [local third parties] are generally glad for the [international] attention, [but] they sometimes regard the internationals as overshadowing the national government. Those [local third parties] active in the negotiations are somewhat resentful that they don’t have direct access to the negotiations the way we do (Interview P-14 2012).

Relationship Dynamics among External Third Parties
Relationship Dynamics among External Third Parties in Nepal

Due to geopolitical factors, external actor relationships in Nepal are often found to be competitive and conflictual, and harmonious only in exceptional situations. One such occasion was in late 2005 and early 2006, when they shared a collective interest in terminating the decade-long Maoist armed conflict and reinstating democracy in Nepal. During that period the conflict had reached a stalemate, and the democracy movement against the King was also nearing victory. In other words, the conflict was ripe for resolution. The external third parties took this as an opportunity to share in the success by expressing their unanimous support for the process. Several respondents observed that shared human rights concerns were a key contributor to maintaining workable relationships among the majority of external third parties in Nepal. Almost all Western donors were very vocal in their criticism of human rights abuses committed by both conflicting parties.

But although human rights concerns brought many third parties together in Nepal, this issue has also been a factor that has weakened external third-party relationships. China and India have not been particularly concerned with Nepal’s human rights record, whereas the so-called donor community has made human rights a fundamental component in shaping their policies toward Nepal. This has been a primary factor behind the sometimes unfriendly relationships between certain external interveners and the government. One respondent representing a European diplomatic mission stated:

The West tends to say . . . we will keep money but be careful . . . no human rights violations. And India just says okay . . . When it comes to United Nations Political Mission in Nepal (unmin), India was against the presence of unmin here, and I am sure that it was also the backing of India that allowed Nepal just to say no, we don’t need any more. Same when it comes to ohchr, they have a different way of working, which I, in a way, also accept. No, it’s not only our Western way of intervening, if you call it intervention. In the end, I regret that of course, because I think only a coordinated manner would allow Nepal to progress easily. I think this won’t happen. China and India have overarching interests themselves in this country. They are not interested in coordination (Interview 2012).

There are also a few positive aspects of external third-party relationships in Nepal. As expressed by many respondents, information- and political analysis-sharing was excellent during the conflict phase, particularly from 2001 to 2005. There was also an attempt to set a common intervention goal by introducing the Basic Operating Guidelines (bogs) for all development partners working in Nepal. However, this process was not entirely successful because powerful third parties such as the u.s. did not agree with some of the provisions, and some other third parties, mainly India and China, did not participate in the guidelines formulation process (Interviews 2012).

Conflict resolution experts interviewed in Nepal suggested that it was very difficult for international actors to act beyond their own agendas. This is due mainly to ideological differences and partly due to competing interests on issues such as federalism, the governing structure of the state and security sector reform. They therefore have a tendency not to coordinate with those who disagree with their conflict resolution model. One respondent from an ingo also stated that every third-party intervener in Nepal had a different measure of intervention success. Differences in intervention style and approach have also been an obstacle creating to amicable relationships, and therefore to successful coordination (Interview N-11 2012).

Relationship Dynamics among External Third Parties in the Philippines

The relationship dynamics of external third parties in the Philippines occur mainly within the various intervention structures established by the conflicting parties, such as the icg and imt. There are also some relationships among a few external third parties who interact beyond the formalized intervention structures.

There were mixed responses from interviewees regarding the relationship dynamics of third parties who were part of formal intervention structures. Most of the icg members expressed similar opinions on why they had friendly and workable relationships. One important factor was appreciation for their different strengths in relation to the gph-milf peace process. For example, state actors, due to their diplomatic relations with the Philippines government, engaged in specific intervention actions, such as leveraging the conflicting parties at the top level. Non-state actors were mostly involved in interaction with broader segments of society around information-gathering, which was then used by state actors in their leveraging efforts (Interview P-14 2012). Under the mandate, the non-state actors also acted as spokespersons for the icg, informing the public about progress in the peace process. In this sense, their roles were complementary and thereby made the icg a more effective third-party intervention structure. A member of the icg made this comment:

In the icg we play complementary roles, and there is no doubt that Malaysia plays a leading role . . . The facilitator is confident that his presence is not threatened by the icg, and he can ask the help of the icg whenever he needs to. Between the states and the ngos, it’s the same. The states have come to acknowledge that ngos have advantages. One is that ngos are not constrained by their governments. They can talk to whoever they want about whatever we want, and this is something that the diplomats can’t do. Second, we have the technical expertise on conflict transformation, which again the diplomats don’t have. But at the same [time], the diplomats have a level of leverage on the parties which ngos could never have . . . The government plays the role of leveraging and the ngos play the role of thinking out of the box (Skype Interview P-17 2012).

A key reason for their workable relationships, then, is that their different strengths and positions lead to a certain level of interdependence. As an icg member explained:

In terms of dividing the work, we never competed anyways in terms of how we work operationally on the ground as ngos. There is healthy competition but we are not duplicating. There is a lot of communication among us. We have the effort to support ngo communities down there, to try to build up their capacity, to play a bigger role in this peace process . . . I think each one brings something special to the table. Japan, for example, because of its work in the imt and jica being down there, brings a special understanding of the situation, and it plays a special role that we don’t have and Britain doesn’t have. Saudi Arabia has its special role. It’s hosting the oic, for example (Interview P-15 2012).

On the other hand, some icg members have also admitted that they do not always have smooth relationships with each other having experienced a number of tussles due to differences of opinion on how to provide support to the peace process. Consequently, they have sometimes criticized each other’s intervention strategies. They attempt to conceal such differences from the conflicting parties, so as to make a positive impression and present a united front. As one icg member said:

In most cases, they [icg members] get along with each other, but sometimes they also become impatient with each other because things are not being understood. There are instances where essentially the state parties would say that what one ngo has done is not a good idea . . . All these usually take place inside the circle (Interview P-14 2012).

Relationships within the imt have likewise been found to be both positive and negative. A respondent representing a European diplomatic mission emphasized that personality plays a key role in whether or not the relationship is smooth:

Within the imt, the relations between the civilian and the military components are quite good. The relationship between the security component and us is extremely good. But our coordination with the civilian protection component which we are supporting . . . is not good, probably because of some personality issues. And within the civilian and security component itself, it’s very challenging, because of the personality issues . . . We kind of speak to each other, but we never build up same mechanisms or joint tools and a uniform interpretation of our mandates (Interview P-9 2012).

Competition is another factor that has made external third-party relationships difficult in the Moro conflict. Competing goals are particularly prevalent among bilateral agencies. An external third-party practitioner noted this concern:

As in the case of development assistance in Mindanao, the best to do is for all the development institutions to come together, have a common goal and divide among themselves . . . That does not really happen, because the bilateral agencies have clear instructions from their capitals. Even though common sense will dictate a convergence of priorities perhaps, geographic areas perhaps, it does not really happen (Interview 2012).

Particular external third parties often want to take sole credit for each intervention action. This problem is especially prevalent among external third parties who provide financial and technical support for different projects in conflict-affected areas. Such identity and visibility consciousness has promoted competition among interveners, leading to support for both necessary and unnecessary projects in conflict-affected areas, and thus to a project overlap. A respondent representing the donor community stated:

Yes, there is a problem of duplication of programs . . . There is not so much competition. But there are more questions related to identity and visibility. That’s what most particularly drives the differences among the bilateral agencies (Interview P-10 2012).

Relationship Dynamics among Local Third Parties
Relationship Dynamics among Local Third Parties in Nepal

The dynamics of local third-party relationships in Nepal are quite distinct from one phase of the conflict to another, as well as within the same phase. Several respondents asserted that, due to their stronger and more harmonious relationships, local third parties were able to intervene collectively during the period of high-intensity violence from 2001 to 2005. For example, civil society organizations had a unified voice during that period regarding the active un presence in Nepal, working closely together to make the ohchr effective in investigating human rights abuses (Upreti 2006). A coordinated civil society response was also visible during the People’s Movement in early 2006, when they took a lead role in organizing mass agitation against the undemocratic takeover of state power by the King (icg 2006, Upreti 2006). A smooth relationship was indispensable during this period of intense conflict in order to sustain their efforts in a volatile political environment.

Yet respondents also pointed out that, due to several factors, harmonious local third-party relationships could not be sustained after the period of intensified conflict. First, there were differences in opinion among local third parties regarding the modality of the peace process, influenced by their ideological closeness with one or the other of the conflicting parties. The report of the icg supports this interpretation:

Civil society was unified and important during the April movement but since then group and individual interests have diverged. Some have adopted a radical stance, pushing policies such as a republic; others have been drawn into the fringes of government . . . The Citizens’ Movement for Democracy and Peace, the most prominent such group, played an important role paving the way for the April movement. However, its campaign for a republic and insistence on rapid implementation of agreements led intellectuals close to the spa to accuse it of being soft on the Maoists, a charge its leaders deny (icg 2006: 21).

The election of the Constitutional Assembly (ca) and the subsequent political environment was another crucial factor that undermined the harmonious relationship between local third parties. A respondent from a donor agency commented:

During the ca election period there were some common agendas (making Nepal a secular state, republic state, federal government and so on) of all political parties, and those agendas also became the common agenda for all civil society groups. However, in the constitution-making process other agendas came in, such as inclusion, governance, foreign policy and so on. Civil society was divided [on] these agendas (Interview N-7 2012).

These examples suggest that the lack of a common understanding of post-conflict issues among local third parties was the result of divergent ideological orientations and institutional beliefs. Local third parties’ stances on particular issues were also guided by the nature of the funding they received from particular donors.

Relationship Dynamics among Local Third Parties in the Philippines

Civil society organizations that acted as local third parties were effective peacemakers in the Philippines. Civil society-led peace initiatives included consolidated mass campaigns during violent outbreaks and urging the parties, especially the government, to continue with the peace process (pdf 2008). Local third parties were also involved, both formally and informally, in the peace process in a number of other capacities, such as acting as a watchdog, service provider and advocate of alternative policies (Ferrer 2006). The work of the Mindanao People Caucus and the Mindanao Human Rights Action Centre can be characterized as formal involvement, while the Mindanao Peoples Weaver (mpw), the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (cbcs), and the Mindanao Solidarity Network intervened informally.

Research participants expressed mixed views about the relationship dynamics of local third parties in the Philippines. Most respondents acknowledged that local third parties had a more or less coordinated relationship on issues around peace advocacy and monitoring. Almost a decade of conflict resolution engagement, proactive dialogue and active communication played an important role in bridging the gaps. They also acknowledged that local third parties had good relationships despite differing interests and occasional tussles over limited resources. They recognized the importance of working with other local third parties and sharing resources and knowledge. One respondent from a Manila-based ngo said, “It’s not good to have conflict with people who are leaders in their particular area of expertise; the most logical thing is to work with them” (Interview P-4 2012).

Despite improved relationships in the past decade, there have been occasions where local third parties have expressed conflicting opinions regarding broader solutions to the conflict, such as issues around the moa-ad4 and the proposed Bangsamoro sub-state. At times local third parties experienced difficulties in arriving at a common position on certain issues due to divergent identities. A local third-party respondent based in Davao City commented:

Because of . . . differences in the roles, and in how they tried to look at the root causes of the conflict, oftentimes you have tensions among the csos, and this is still continuing until now. . . . Some organizations were saying we should come out already with a position, supporting the moa-ad, let it out in the public, whereas other groups in the network [do] not necessarily endorse the moa-ad. Some groups are actively campaigning for the Bangsamoro state, some are not (Interview 2012).

There is a tendency in the Philippines, and particularly in Mindanao, to believe that the peace talks are only relevant to certain regions of Mindanao. This attitude has clearly weakened local third-party relationships. There is often tension between Manila-based and Mindanao-based organizations regarding each other’s roles and responsibilities in the peace process. There is also tension between Muslim and non-Muslim csos and even among the Muslim csos based on their clan identities and localities (Interview P-18 2012).

Perceptions of bias towards a particular conflicting party have clearly contributed to making local third parties’ relationships less harmonious. For example, some respondents from Manila and non-Moro csos suggest that the Mindanao People Caucus and cbcs are too closely aligned with the milf (Interview P-20 2012), whereas respondents from Cotabato City contend that some csos working in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao are in fact working for the Manila government instead of being neutral actors. Religious bias has also been perceived as an impediment to local third-party harmony. One respondent from a Mindanao-based ngo alluded to this dynamic:

We . . . work with some groups who are into peace and development initiatives . . . But we can’t establish coordination with the Moro organizations because they say we don’t have similar Islamic values (Interview P-22 2012).

On the other hand, a network formation strategy has sometimes contributed to cordial local third-party relationships. One of the respondents from Cotabato City argued that good relationships among local third parties were due to their associations with various civil society networks:

We have coordination because so many of us are also part of the other coalitions. But we can’t deny that we have our own interests of course. For instance, the Mindanao Emergency Response Network, their mandate is just to respond to emergency situations. While other organizations like the Mindanao Alliance for Peace is more political, it was born because it wants to have activities that can have a direct impact on the peace process . . . These are all organizations helping the peace process move forward. Our relationship is helping each other without running against each other (Interview P-33 2012).

Another respondent believed that considerable networking occurred among local third parties, and that generally they had developed a culture of “coming together” (Interview P-4 2012). The cbcs is a relevant example in this regard. Before its establishment in 2003, hundreds of Moro organizations were working on their own, sometimes cheating, competing or pulling each other down. The formation of the cbcs, according to one respondent, helped to alleviate the negative aspects of their former relationship. mpw is another successful example, as it helped to unify both Moro and non-Moro civil society networks from all over the country.

csos from both Manila and Mindanao are organized through different networks and coordination forums and have experienced some problems in their relationships. One respondent from a Manila-based peace institute stated that there is confusion over embracing a single peace advocacy strategy because different networks have different policy interests (Interview P-5 2012). Other challenges among civil society networks include weaknesses in consolidating their intervention efforts because different networks are scattered across different parts of the country. Personality clashes have also been reported as a challenge to harmonious working relationships among networks, as has competition in obtaining funding from donors (Interviews 2012).

Third-party Relationships: A Comparative Perspective

A comparison of the cases selected for this study provides valuable insights for understanding the dynamics of third-party relationships. Comparing local-external third-party relationships in the two cases, local third parties in Nepal are found to be highly critical of intervention actions and strategies of external third parties. In contrast, in the Philippines, local third parties have expressed moderate views towards external third parties, while nevertheless highlighting the negative aspects of their relationships.

One common response between the two cases is that local third parties are not happy with imbalances in their partnerships with external third parties. Another similarity is that external third parties in both cases have appreciated and acknowledged the value of local third parties in conflict mediation and peacebuilding. This suggests that external third parties, regardless of the nature and characteristics of conflicts and peace processes, often speak more or less the same language when characterizing their relationships with local actors. Local third parties’ perceptions of their relationships with external ones are influenced by context, as many issues of relational concern differ from one conflict context to another.

Regarding external third parties’ relationships in Nepal, issues of differing intervention approaches, phases of conflict and ideological differences are key factors in shaping their relationship dynamics. In contrast, in the Philippines the existence of an intervention structure mandated by the conflicting parties was highly influential in shaping their relationships. In other words, the relationship dynamics of external third parties are, again, influenced by context.

Based on findings in the Philippines case, this research suggests that relationships remain more or less consistent, healthy and strong in the presence of intervention structures mandated by the conflicting parties. This is mainly because of reciprocal appreciation for their differing strengths in the peace process, sense of interdependence and the maturation of their relationships over the course of the peace process. In Nepal, however, external third-party relationship dynamics changed in various phases of the conflict. One similarity between two cases is that external third-party relationships were often competitive and conflictual; this was due more to identity and visibility consciousness in the Philippines and to ideological differences and discrepancies in selecting intervening agendas in Nepal.

Dynamics pertinent to varying phases of conflict have played a greater role in shaping relationships among local third parties in Nepal, where stronger and more harmonious relationships were forged during the period of high-intensity violence and less harmonious relationships were established in the post-agreement period. These relationship difficulties were due to differences in opinion regarding the modality of the peace process, mostly shaped by divergent ideological orientations and institutional beliefs. In contrast, in the Philippines relationships have been influenced more by identity, geographical location, duration of engagement and networking among local third parties. This suggests that local third parties’ relationships are, again, highly contextual from one conflict context to another, and even in different phases within the same conflict.

Third-party Relationships: A Synchronized Analysis of the Cases

Previous explanations of third-party relationships in armed conflicts and peace processes have focused largely on the relationship between official and unofficial interveners. My research has explored other relational dynamics (local-external, external-external and local-local). Local-external third-party relationships are found to be one of the most crucial factors in intervention coordination. This finding also affirms the notion of hybridity (Jarstad and Belloni 2012, Mac Ginty and Sanghera 2012, Millar, Lijn, and Verkoren 2013, Richmond 2009), as the relationships between local and external third parties are found to be confrontational as well as cooperative in both case studies.

This research provides a number of insights into the root causes of third-party relationship problems. Relationship problems between local and external third parties have emerged mainly because of the lack of honest and sincere dialogue in defining their roles and scope in peace processes. There is also a question of who decides where and how to intervene. External interveners often enter a conflict-affected country with a set intervention agenda, unless they are invited by the conflicting parties to help them to facilitate certain aspects of the peace process. Local third parties find such intervention approaches unacceptable, as they assume they know the problem better than external third parties and should therefore be the leading actors in intervention processes. Local third parties are dissatisfied mainly due to their limited intervention roles.

While the existing literature emphasizes the joint involvement of local and external third parties in various conflict resolution efforts (Crocker, Hampson, and Aall 2001, Garb and Nan 2006, Wehr and Lederach 1991), this research suggests that they are often perceived as competitors rather than partners. In both case studies, local third parties often consider external third parties a necessary evil, because while they are seen as resource-rich, they are also perceived as a threat to local ownership of the peace process.

I argue that it is an equal responsibility of both local and external third parties to mitigate their competing behaviors and move towards strengthening their relationships. In this regard, local third parties should give adequate space to external third parties and attempt to identify issues that could be better addressed by external third parties. External third parties should intervene in a conflict without undermining the local ownership of the peace process. All interventions require judicious thinking, in-depth understanding and accurate perceptions of the local conflict context, which this research shows are often lacking in external third parties. External third parties should intervene in a conflict with locally grounded conflict intervention strategies, rather than basing their intervention on previous experience in other conflict settings. Previous experience may help them to come up with sound intervention strategies, but even the best strategies will fail if they are designed without adequate understanding of the conflict context.

This research reveals that interdependence is a crucial factor in creating strong third-party relationships. This finding supports Lederach’s (1999) argument that the interdependence gap is one of the key challenges to coordinated relationships of respect and understanding between higher-level leaders and grassroots leaders. My research further reveals that interdependence is also crucial among third parties that are intervening in a conflict only at the highest level or at the local level. Interdependence is necessary between local and external actors, among locals and among externals, so that all actors can supplement each other’s intervention efforts. As argued in the literature, a single type of third party, with limited skills and strengths, cannot fulfil the conflict resolution needs of present-day armed conflicts (Paris 2009, Regan and Abouharb 2002). A conflict-affected country requires multiple actors, both local and external. But third parties cannot be interdependent if they are unaware of each other’s priorities, actions and goals. One of the best ways to realize interdependence and promote coordination is to ensure engagement in various formal and informal coordination forums, where third parties have an opportunity to expose their intervention strengths and weaknesses to other third parties.

This research finds that a sense of respect is another crucial component of healthy third-party relationships. Regardless of different power statuses, working in different levels of conflict and with different roles, each third party desires to gain respect and acknowledgement for their work from other third parties. Less powerful third parties and local third parties are much more eager to garner such respect, as they want to be acknowledged by others for their contribution to the peace process. Respect begins with recognizing everyone’s importance in the peace process. It is also reflected in the generosity and flexibility shown by third parties to freely interact with other third parties. It can be seen in valuing the sentiments of local third parties on the one hand and accepting the presence of external third parties on the other. It is difficult to achieve mutual respect when policy measures are set by individual third parties or by the conflicting parties; it can only be achieved by changing attitudes through knowing others more fully through dialogue and interaction. It is the equal responsibility of both local and external third parties to mitigate their relationship problems. Local third parties must be liberal enough to provide adequate space for third parties, while external actors must accept the given space without undermining the local third parties’ importance in the peace process.

Differences in intervention strategies and priorities have been identified as a major contextual factor adversely affecting third-party relationships. This problem can be addressed by developing a culture of collective intervention. Third parties must have a genuine commitment to developing intervention strategies not because of their own readings of the conflict, but based on what is identified through a joint analysis. Third parties can form a joint task force to obtain regular political updates and analysis and formulate intervention strategies based on those analyses. Likewise, as seen in Nepal, third parties can collectively develop basic operating guidelines which ensure the ethics of intervention.

To enhance relationships among third parties, three categories of actors – the conflicting parties, powerful third parties and global institutions – must each play an important role. The conflicting parties can enforce third parties’ intervention in the conflict, based on prescribed mandates. It is obvious that third parties tend to intervene independently when there are no regulating structures in place to monitor their activities. Mandates contribute to the uniformity of intervention approaches among third parties. If local and external third parties are involved in similar intervention actions, their intervention jurisdictions must be separate and very clear to avoid rivalry. Likewise, conflicting parties need to make a commitment that they will not accept individual third-party support in cases where intervention requires broader third-party support. Such commitments compel third parties working on similar issues to coordinate before approaching the conflicting parties.

In the case of powerful third parties, it may be difficult for the conflicting parties to direct them to work under prescribed intervention structures. Yet powerful third parties’ genuine interests and commitments are crucial to developing friendly relationships among a diverse range of third parties. Powerful third parties have the capacity to bring a number of less powerful organizations together if they make themselves accessible to other third parties to meet and communicate in a timely manner. This, of course, depends on their genuine commitment to establish a good working relationship with other third parties.

Global institutions, particularly the un, can serve in an acceptable coordinating capacity for improving relationships among a wider range of third-party interveners. The un can convene regular meetings and interaction forums, work as an information hub and even take initiative to accumulate resources required for particular intervention actions. The un has on many occasions taken such initiatives, but if such processes were institutionalized this could contribute to improving third-party relationships and coordination in conflict situations. The United Nations Peace-Building Commission (un-pbc) is an important step in that direction, but the un-pbc has been limited to post-agreement coordination and only in specific countries. A mechanism similar to un-pbc, focusing on both conflict and post-conflict coordination, would be useful.

Conclusion

Third parties must be intentional about making their relationships stronger in order to produce more successful interventions. The reality is that third-party relationship problems are ubiquitous and can be found both among and between local and external third parties. Debilitated third-party relationships, in their various subsets, are basically the product of power differences and traditional rivalries, preconceived attitudes towards each other, differences in intervention strategies and priorities and specific actions taken by third parties. Importantly, the involvement of powerful third parties produces more relationship problems than the involvement of less powerful third parties. However, most relationship problems can be addressed either through policy measures or through continuous dialogue and interaction. The formation of intervention structures mandated by the conflicting parties is one policy measure that can improve third-party relationships. Encouraging changes in the attitudes and behaviors of third parties is equally important.

This research has also led me to conclude that third-party relationships in conflict resolution efforts take a long time to strengthen. Third parties initially enter into conflict as individual interveners and attempt to intervene in a conflict through their own efforts, based on their past experience and ideological commitments. Relationships evolve and strengthen according to the level of interaction with other third parties. They are also influenced by the nature and characteristics of the conflict. A violent and protracted conflict contributes to making third parties’ relationships stronger, as unitary intervention efforts in such situations cannot be properly operationalized due to the complex political environment.

Finally, this research also suggests that third-party relational dynamics can play a supportive role and help to make the intervention process more organized and disciplined. At the same time, regardless of its strengths, such interventions may not substantially affect the outcome of the peace process. This does not mean that uncoordinated interventions are more effective but that, along with coordinated third-party relationships, other factors, such as the conflicting parties’ efforts and sincerity, also need to be taken seriously.

1 The term intervention used here is not about military or diplomatic interventions as defined in conventional political science or security studies literature; rather, it indicates peacebuilding and conflict resolution-related non-coercive interventions, including diplomatic intervention.

2 Although they are now popularly known as ucpn (Maoist), I will describe them here simply as Maoists.

3 There was an active monarchy in Nepal until the 1990s. After the success of the People’s Movement in 1990, the then King was ready to share power with parliamentary political parties and remain a constitutional monarch. However, the King still held some powers, such as Chief of Command of the Royal Nepal Army.

4 In July 2008, representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the milf announced the finalization of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (moa-ad), an agreement that was expected to bring about peace in the Mindanao region (Hayudini & Guzman 2010).

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4

In July 2008, representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the milf announced the finalization of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (moa-ad), an agreement that was expected to bring about peace in the Mindanao region (Hayudini & Guzman 2010).

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  • Nan Susan Allen Intervention Coordination 2003 http://crinfo.beyondintractability.org/essay/intervention_coordination/.

  • Nan Susan Allen & Strimling Andrea Track i – Track ii Cooperation 2004 http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/track_1_2_cooperation/?nid=1331.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nan Susan Allen & Strimling Andrea “Coordination in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding” International Negotiation 2006 11 1 1 6

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Paris Roland Paris Roland & Sisk Timothy D. “Understanding the Coordination Problem in Postwar Statebuilding” Dilemmas of Statebuilding: Confronting the Contradictions of Postwar Peace Operations 2009 London Routledge

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Philippine Development Forum Mindanao Peace and Development Imperatives: A Call to Action 2008 Paper read at Philippine Development Forum March 26–27 2008

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Peterson Jenny H. “A Conceptual Unpacking of Hybridity: Accounting for Notions of Power, Politics and Progress in Analyses of Aid-Driven Interfaces” Journal of Peacebuilding & Development 2012 7 2 9 22

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Regan Patrick M. & Abouharb M. Rodwan “Interventions and Civil Conflicts: Tools of Conflict Management or Simply Another Participant?” World Affairs 2002 165 1 42 54

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Richmond Oliver P. “Becoming liberal, unbecoming liberalism: Liberal-local hybridity via the everyday as a response to the paradoxes of liberal peacebuilding” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 2009 3 3 324 344

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sisk Timothy D. Leveraging for Peace in Liberia: Options and Recommendations, report 2002

  • Strimling Andrea “Stepping out of the tracks: Cooperation between official diplomats and private facilitators” International Negotiation 2006 11 1 91 127

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Upreti Bishnu Raj Civil Society and Involvement of United Nations in Arms Management in Nepal Role of Civil Society and in Conflict Mediation and Peace Building in Nepal 2006 Kathmandu, Nepal Centre for Economic and Technical Studies (CETS) in Cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wallensteen Peter Understanding Conflict Resolution 2012 London SAGE Publications

  • Wehr Paul & Lederach John Paul “Mediating Conflict in Central America” Journal of Peace Research 1991 28 1 85 98

  • Whitfield Teresa “Masala Peacemaking: Nepal’s Peace Process and the Contribution of Outsiders” Conflict Resolution and Peace Forum 2008 1 36

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zartman I. William Wimmer Andreas et al. “Sources and settlements of ethnic conflicts” Facing Ethnic Conflicts. Toward a New Realism 2004 Lanham Rowman and Littlefield 141 159

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4

    In July 2008, representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the milf announced the finalization of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (moa-ad), an agreement that was expected to bring about peace in the Mindanao region (Hayudini & Guzman 2010).

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