Designed for practitioners working in or on conflict zones, this course will introduce participants to mediation and improve their ability to understand the motivations and objectives of the various parties to mediation, promote ripeness, develop effective relationships, increase leverage and strengthen mediation capacity.

UN Security Council meeting
Meeting of the UN Security Council. Photo Courtesy of UN.

Course Overview

Working in a conflict situation often demands mediation skills, whether you are working at a grassroots level or in state capitals. Mediation is both an art and science, and requires skilled analysis, careful planning and effective communication. Participants will practice skills through simulations, role-play and case studies.

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Chapter 1 Introduction to Mediation

One of the most perplexing challenges in the area of conflict management and peacebuilding is how to help parties to a conflict stop fighting and come to a sustainable agreement. Mediation, in its simplest form, is a three-way process by which a third party helps the parties to a conflict find a solution they cannot find by themselves. In this first chapter, you will be introduced to mediation and its complexities. Through a decision-making scenario you will learn about the importance of listening, analytical and persuasive skills that help the parties find common areas and thus, ideally, a settlement

Chapter 2 Conflict Analysis, Ripeness and Readiness

Conducting a conflict analysis is the cornerstone of mediation and without a proper analysis the chances of reaching a mediated agreement are extremely slim. This chapter will explore how to conduct a thorough conflict analysis by answering the basic questions of who, where, what, why, when and how, and the players involved, both directly and indirectly. Additionally, you will be immersed in a scenario that will help you decipher if a conflict is ripe and/or ready and the importance of these concepts in the field of mediation.

Chapter 3 Mediation Skills

Mediation requires commitment, humility, humor and endless amounts of patience. This chapter focuses on the skills of an effective mediator. Understanding issues on both sides is critical. What are the sources of leverage? What are the incentives and disincentives? Are the parties ready to meet or are they reluctant to talk? Who talks? Who talks first? Do you have equal access to all parties involved? This chapter’s decision-making scenario aims to build your confidence in your skills as a capable and effective mediator.

Chapter 4 Institutions and Dynamics of Mediation

This chapter addresses the strengths and weaknesses of different types of mediators and mediating institutions. We explore the different ways to engage as a mediator. Participants will learn to identify strategies for holding a productive discussion with parties to a conflict.

Course Instructors

Guest Experts

  • Eileen Babbitt, Professor of Practice of International Conflict Management, Director of the Institute for Human Security, and Co-Director of the Program on Human Rights and Conflict Resolution at The Fletcher School
  • Ambassador Princeton Lyman, former United States special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan
  • Chester A. Crocker, James R. Schlesinger Professor of Strategic Studies at Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • Joyce Neu, Founder and Senior Associate, Facilitating Peace

Related Publications

Digital Inclusion in Mediated Peace Processes: How Technology Can Enhance Participation

Digital Inclusion in Mediated Peace Processes: How Technology Can Enhance Participation

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

By: Andreas T. Hirblinger

Inclusion in peace processes is conventionally understood in “offline” terms, such as being physically present at the negotiation table. However, digital technology can support a mediator’s efforts to integrate a broad variety of perspectives, interests, and needs into a peace process. This report explores the current and future practice of digital inclusion, giving a framework for understanding the possibilities and risks, and providing examples of practical ways digital technologies can contribute to mediated peace processes.

Type: Peaceworks

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

It’s Time for the U.S. To Rethink North Korea Policy

It’s Time for the U.S. To Rethink North Korea Policy

Thursday, September 10, 2020

By: Ashish Kumar Sen

A little over a year ago, U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s third meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was making headlines as much for its historic nature—it was the first time that a sitting U.S. president had set foot in North Korea—as for what it represented about the lack of progress in U.S.-North Korea relations. The next U.S. administration, whether it is led by Trump or former Vice President Joseph Biden, will face a more emboldened regime in Pyongyang and, according to experts, must rethink past failed strategies for dealing with this challenge.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

How to Engage the Enemy: The Case for National Security Diplomacy with North Korea

How to Engage the Enemy: The Case for National Security Diplomacy with North Korea

Thursday, September 3, 2020

By: Van Jackson

To help U.S. policymakers better manage the myriad risks they face on the Korean Peninsula, this report assesses whether and how to pursue national security diplomacy with North Korea. This concept of engagement responds to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 regarding the benefits and risks for US national security. Persistent engagement with North Korea’s national security elites, the report argues, is a policy wager with a large potential upside and very little cost and risk.

Type: Special Report

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Built for Trust, Not for Conflict: ASEAN Faces the Future

Built for Trust, Not for Conflict: ASEAN Faces the Future

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

By: Drew Thompson; Byron Chong

In the more than five decades since the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, relations among its member states have remained generally peaceful, and major interstate conflict has been all but eliminated. Yet, ASEAN now faces significant challenges, not least from competition between the United States and China that threatens to draw individual ASEAN countries into taking sides. This report discusses ASEAN’s role in maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia and how it can adapt to a rapidly evolving geopolitical climate to meet future challenges.

Type: Special Report

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

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