UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Getting the ’right’ agreement : how international norms influence the behaviour of international mediators Bluman-Schroeder, Michael


In the Post Cold War, international society has often turned to the practice of mediation to intervene in intrastate ethnic conflicts. Not surprisingly, there has been a growing interest in international relations scholarship on the subject. Within this body of literature, mediation outcome is usually the dependent variable and the independent variables have included (a) the source of conflict; (b) the requisite strategic conditions that make a given conflict 'ripe' for mediation or (c) the characteristics, strategies and resources of the mediator. As a result of this preoccupation with mediation outcome, what is under-developed is an understanding of what shapes the behaviour of mediators. In other words, this thesis makes mediator behaviour rather than mediation outcome the dependent variable. Drawing on a constructivist approach to international relations, it argues that international mediator behaviour is influenced by the social and normative context in which mediators operate. To this end, a more complete explanation recognizes the role of the professional and international norms that constitute the social context. Put another way, mediators may behave in ways that do not maximize the probability of agreement in order to seek peace settlements that meet certain international standards of appropriateness. To support this argument, this thesis attempts to develop a constructivist theoretical approach to international mediation which unpacks the identities and interests of mediators. Moreover, to provide preliminary evidence of the empirical validity of this theoretical approach, this thesis considers how international norms affected the behaviour of Lord David Owen and Richard Holbrooke, both lead international mediators in the Bosnian conflict of the early 1990s.

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