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  • © 2022

Adaptive Mediation and Conflict Resolution

Peace-making in Colombia, Mozambique, the Philippines, and Syria

Palgrave Macmillan

Editors:

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  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

  • Explores the strengths and limits of international mediation as a peacebuilding mechanism

  • Introduces adaptive mediation as an alternative approach for coping with the complexity of contemporary conflicts

  • Emphasises that effective and sustainable mediation needs to be framed in relation to local realities and dynamics

Part of the book series: Sustainable Development Goals Series (SDGS)

Buying options

Softcover Book
USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

About this book

‘Books about liberal peacebuilding’s shortcomings rarely go beyond platitudes of inclusion, local ownership, and flexibility. This book grapples seriously with what it would mean to put these principles into grounded practice in the real world of peace mediation and conflict resolution. Adaptive mediation means that the role of internationals is to accompany self-organized home-grown peace processes and to protect them from interference.’

–Thania Paffenholz, Executive Director, Inclusive Peace, Switzerland

‘This book demonstrates that respect for local realities is paramount for sustainable peace because each conflict is different. The argument also underwrites the recent experiences in Afghanistan. The book would be of value to those engaged in peace efforts as well as in post-conflict reconstruction.’

–Tadamichi Yamamoto, Visiting Professor, Doshisha University, Japan, and Former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

‘This book is a theoretically groundbreaking and empirically rich study on adaptive mediation. It is a must-read for scholars and students of peace and conflict research, as well as for peace practitioners interested in how peace mediation practices can better recognise the complexity of societies and conflict realities, redefine the role of the mediator, and address the demands of locally owned inclusive peace processes.’

–Marko Lehti, Deputy Director of Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), Finland

This open access book introduces adaptive mediation as an alternative approach that enables mediators to go beyond determined-design models of mediation. Adaptive mediation is grounded in complexity theory, and is specifically designed to cope with highly dynamic conflict situations characterized by uncertainty. It is a facilitated mediation process whereby the content of agreements emerges from the parties to the conflict themselves, informed by the context within which the conflict is situated. The book presents the core principles and practices of adaptive mediation with empirical evidence from Colombia, Mozambique, The Philippines, and Syria.

Cedric de Coning is Research Professor with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), and Senior Advisor with the African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD).

Ako Muto is Executive Senior Research Fellow at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development.

Rui Saraiva is Research Fellow at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development.

Keywords

  • Open Access
  • peacekeeping
  • peacebuilding
  • mediation in protracted conflicts
  • mediation and peacebuilding
  • mediation in Colombia
  • mediation in Syria
  • mediation in Mozambique
  • mediation in the Philippines
  • why international mediation fails
  • adaptive peacebuilding
  • adaptive mediation
  • peace-making
  • UN SDGs
  • SDG 16
  • sustainable development goals

Reviews

“In an increasingly unpredictable and uncertain world, conflicts are becoming more complex and difficult to resolve and sustain peace agreements. Local ownership of peace processes, as a way to build sustainable peace, has been a mantra preached for decades but until now, this has been, at best, a cliché. This book on adaptive mediation, focusing on local ownership of peace processes, is therefore timely, refreshing and original, and should be compulsory reading for students and practitioners alike.” (Vasu Gounden, Founder and Executive Director, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), South Africa)

“This is an important book. The international community has been struggling for decades to pivot from its standard top-down, linear, one-size-fits-all approach to mediation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and this insightful book lays out a practical, albeit challenging, alternative path forward. Combining concepts from complexity science with grounded experiences and empirical case studies of some of the more challenging protracted conflicts of our time, the authors offer a hopeful but realistic sense of what effective adaptive mediation and peacebuilding can look like – in fact, must look like – as the degree and pace of complexity in our world continues to rise. Peace scholars, peacebuilders, policy makers and donors would do well to take heed.” (Peter T. Coleman, Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and Director of The Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, USA)

“The reforms liberal peacebuilding badly needs have been rehearsed in thousands of books, articles, program evaluations and UN resolutions. But the findings and recommendations rarely go beyond platitudes of inclusion, local ownership, and flexibility. This volume presents an alternative that grapples seriously with what it would mean to put these principles into concrete concepts and grounded practice in the real world of peace mediation and conflict resolution. It turns out that adaptive mediation mostly means that the role of internationals is to accompany self-organized home-grown peace processes and even protect them from overly international interference. It is a must-read for policy makers, practitioners and students alike!” (Thania Paffenholz, Executive Director, Inclusive Peace, Switzerland)

“This book is a theoretically groundbreaking and empirically rich study on adaptive mediation. It is a must-read for scholars and students of peace and conflict research, as well as for peace practitioners and policymakers interested in how peace mediation practices can better recognise the complexity of societies and conflict realities, redefine the role of the mediator, and address the demands of locally owned inclusive peace processes.” (Marko Lehti, Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), Tampere University, Finland)

“Adaptive mediation is exactly what is needed for today’s international conflict resolution. Based on a deep understanding of complexity theory, this book offers an accessible and practical set of tools to analyze and resolve the most intractable wars of today and tomorrow. Adaptive mediation will change the way you understand how conflict evolves and will revolutionize the field of mediation. It will be required reading in all my courses, and should guide how we deal with future conflicts.” (Adam Day, Director of Programmes at United Nations University Centre for Policy Research, New York, USA) 

“This is a laudable and timely effort to debate the merits of fundamental concepts of mediation today. The authors correctly identify and criticize cookie cutter approaches to mediation. In several country cases, the concept of adaptive mediation is demonstrated to be workable and convincing. Whether it is applicable in a wider number of varying contexts, especially the more complex conflicts involving foreign armies, is however yet to be proven.” (Asif R. Khan, Chief of Mediation Support and Gender, Peace & Security, UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs)

“This book, through both theoretical analysis and concrete examples, leads us to understand the importance of the ownership by the parties to the conflict of the peace and reconciliation process. Mediators’ delicate and yet key roles are discussed. Respect for the local realities is paramount for a sustainable peace; but without sometimes facilitation to break the deadlock, process would not advance. Adaptive mediation proposed here serves as an answer to help conflict resolution in the current complex context. When I look back on the Afghan conflict, the importance of what the book argues as key elements becomes apparent. The lack of one party’s will to seek settlement through talks led to stalling of the peace talks between the Taliban and the Republic; and the lack of proactive participation of diversified citizens was one of the reasons which threw the country into deep confusion after Taliban’s return to power.” (Tadamichi Yamamoto, Visiting Professor, Doshisha University, Japan, and Former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), Oslo, Norway

    Cedric de Coning

  • JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development, Tokyo, Japan

    Ako Muto, Rui Saraiva

About the editors

Cedric de Coning is a research professor with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) Center on U.N. and Global Governance, where he coordinates the Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network and leads the Climate-related Peace and Security Risk project. He is also a senior advisor for the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) and Chief Editor of ACCORD's COVID-19 Conflict and Resilience Monitor.

Ako Muto is Executive Senior Research Fellow at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Ogata Research Institute for Peace and Development.

Rui Saraiva is a research fellow in the Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Support Team at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development.

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Softcover Book
USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)