Categories
Peace CSS Blog

Mediation Perspectives: The Political-Technical Interaction in Ceasefires

Christmas Truce 1914. Image courtesy of Wikipedia/A.C.Michael/Illustrated London News

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.

If something is purely political, it becomes fuzzy as there is no clear, objective “right or wrong”. If something is purely technical, with many objective “rights and wrongs”, it becomes boring as there is nothing to debate or shape. Things become fascinating when the political and technical interact. Ceasefires that aim to stop violence are important because they can save human life, but they are also intellectually intriguing because of the way political and technical dimensions must interact if they are to be effective.

Categories
Conflict Diplomacy CSS Blog

Mediation Perspectives: Temptations of a Mediator II

Image courtesy of Wiros/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.

This is the second blog on temptations of a mediator. The first blog looked at temptations mediators need to resist that pull the mediator in one direction. This second blog looks at temptations that pull you in different directions, thus all the topics have an “or” in the title.

Categories
Conflict Diplomacy CSS Blog

Mediation Perspectives: Temptations of a Mediator I

Image courtesy of Wiros/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.

As mediators, we need to be highly flexible and context oriented. It is therefore sometimes easier to focus on what we should not do than what we should do. This focus on the “not” provides more than just parameters in which one can move freely, it also increases an awareness of ‘orange zones’ where we have to be careful as we may end up in a red zone where one can do more harm than good. Lakhdar Bramhimi and Salman Ahmed provide a fantastic write up of this kind of approach in “Seven Deadly Sins of a Mediator.” In particular, the sins Brahimi and Ahmed describe are ignorance, arrogance, partiality, impotence, haste, inflexibility and false promises.

Categories
Religion Diplomacy CSS Blog

Mediation Perspectives: Using Religious Resources to Teach Negotiation and Mediation (Part 1): Criteria

Courtesy of jan.tito/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry that’s provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts. To keep up to date with the with the Mediation Support Team, you can sign up to their newsletter here.

A pastor tells a negotiation expert: “The truth will set you free!” The negotiation expert responds: “What “truth”? It all depends on your perception! And anyway, why are you telling me this; what is the interest behind your position?” One can imagine how this type of interaction could quickly degenerate into miscommunication. However, one can also take it as a starting point to reflect on how different professional communities – in the following case, religious actors and negotiation and mediation experts – can interact constructively.

The purpose of today’s blog, which is the first of a multi-part series, is to see what guiding principles can facilitate the above interaction. The blogs that will follow this one will then illustrate how mediation can be performed by different religious communities and profitably rely on religious sources, such as the Bible or the Quran, to train negotiators and mediators.

Categories
Culture Humanitarian Issues Conflict CSS Blog

Mediation Perspectives: Learning from Freedom Nyamubaya

Freedom Nyamubaya
Mediation Perspectives is a periodic blog entry provided by the CSS’ Mediation Support Team and occasional guest authors. Each entry is designed to highlight the utility of mediation approaches in dealing with violent political conflicts.

“In the absence of vision
The earth starts to vomit skeletons long buried,
Once swallowed by time,
As politics become a means to amass wealth,
You can buy a vote at thirty pieces of silver …”

Excerpt from “In the Absence of Vision.”[1]

                                                   – Freedom Nyamubaya

Daniel Bowling and David Hoffman argue that mediators go through three stages in their training. They first learn skills and techniques, then they learn to
intellectually understand how mediation processes work, and finally they take the most challenging step – i.e., they develop “self-awareness, presence, authenticity, congruence, and integration,” which are qualities that “can be learned but . . . cannot be taught.” [2]

One way of learning such qualities is letting oneself be inspired by other people – mediators and non-mediators alike – who have such presence. The late Freedom Nyamubaya (1957–2015) was such a person, as I would now like to discuss in this partial commemoration and partial reflection on how to mediate well.

Freedom Nyamubaya was a freedom-fighter in Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. She joined the struggle at age fifteen and later advanced to the rank of Female Field Operation Commander. After the war she was active as a farmer, development worker and poet. In recent years she also became involved in peace and security issues as a Trustee for the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme. While she would not have called herself a mediator, she did work tirelessly to build bridges across conflict divides and was a powerful source of inspiration to many people within and outside of Zimbabwe.