One of the most important and disputed questions within the fields of international relations and conflict studies concerns the issue of mediator impartiality. Should mediators be biased—supportive of one but not both of the main disputants—or should mediators always be impartial? This paper contributes to this debate by studying the effectiveness of mediation with regard to the role of mediator bias in a game-theoretic model of cheap talk. This study shows that the institutional design of a mediation process is affected by two factors: the relative degree of conflict and the incentives to misrepresent private information. We find that a necessary (but not always sufficient) condition for the success of a mediation process is a sufficiently low likelihood of a misrepresentation problem. If in addition, the relative degree of conflict is low enough, mediation is effective, and the institutional design of a mediation process is the same regardless of the bias. Otherwise, the design will be quite different depending on the direction of the bias.

Biased Mediators in Conflict Resolution

Andrés Salamanca
2023-01-01

Abstract

One of the most important and disputed questions within the fields of international relations and conflict studies concerns the issue of mediator impartiality. Should mediators be biased—supportive of one but not both of the main disputants—or should mediators always be impartial? This paper contributes to this debate by studying the effectiveness of mediation with regard to the role of mediator bias in a game-theoretic model of cheap talk. This study shows that the institutional design of a mediation process is affected by two factors: the relative degree of conflict and the incentives to misrepresent private information. We find that a necessary (but not always sufficient) condition for the success of a mediation process is a sufficiently low likelihood of a misrepresentation problem. If in addition, the relative degree of conflict is low enough, mediation is effective, and the institutional design of a mediation process is the same regardless of the bias. Otherwise, the design will be quite different depending on the direction of the bias.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5061822
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