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Information, bias, and mediation success: Evaluating the effectiveness of mediation of international conflicts
Leeds, Brett Ashley
Doctor of Philosophy
Why do some mediation activities produce favorable outcomes while others fail to achieve success? I investigate this question by focusing on the type and characteristics of mediators of international conflicts. Are some types of mediators more able to facilitate negotiated settlements between the disputants than others? Drawing on the bargaining theory of war and building upon Kydd's (2003) game-theoretical model of mediation, I argue that mediators that have information about the military capabilities and/or resolve of the disputants are more likely to induce negotiated settlements between the disputants than those without such information. I develop operational measures of mediator's information about the disputants and mediator's bias towards the disputants and find that having relevant information about the disputants increases a mediator's likelihood of success. However, I do not find empirical support for the argument that a mediator needs to be biased towards one of the disputants in order to credibly convey information. The findings of this study increase our confidence in the usefulness and relevance of the bargaining theory of war, which perceives information imperfections as a central cause of conflict.