Overcoming obstacles to peace: The contribution of mediation to short-lived conflict settlements

Scott Sigmund Gartner, Jacob Bercovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


We argue that a factor widely seen as facilitating cooperation in an international dispute, mediation, is also a sign that a resulting agreement is likely to be short-lived. Mediators get the tough cases, disputes that are most likely to result in short-lived settlements - a selection effect. At the same time, mediation helps to resolve a conflict's underlying issues, making mediated settlements more likely to last - a process effect. We develop a theory that captures these opposing forces - focusing on the conditional effect of mediation on nonstate actors - and taking into account critical aspects of the disputants, conflict, conflict management processes and settlement. Using hazard analysis, Heckman two-stage probit and logistic regression, we statistically analyze over 1,400 settlements drawn from the just released International Conflict Management 2000 data set and also conduct a quantitative case study of mediation tools used in the former Yugoslavia. All analyses find strong support for the opposing effects of mediation; mediated agreements are more likely to be short-lived, unless they involve nonstate actors. This study advances our understanding of selection effects and the factors that lead to short-lived settlements, and provides policy makers and potential mediators a way to establish realistic expectations about the durability of dispute settlements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)819-840
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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