Mediation is still a work in progress. Some organizations tend to present some activities as best practices, guidelines, blue prints; others are still quite unclear as to the basic epistemology of mediation and a few are very cautious by providing narratives and extracting deontological key insights.
When dealing with international conflicts (which also pertains to intra-state conflicts which have the characteristics of international conflict), the following lessons learned can be applied:
– to maintain impartiality (impartial neutrality)
– to refuse to be used by the parties and not assume any role other than that of mediator – not to become an arbitrator
– to not be involved in the conflict, nor to have any course of action other than accompanying the parties in finding a peace agreement
– to gain the trust of the parties by ensuring confidentiality
– to never make proposals and to report the proposals made by either of the parties without judging them
– to be without power, to handle the in-between position to attempt to bring together the parties that have become distant
– to believe in the good faith of the parties in order to reach an agreement.
I believe that these lessons learned, valid since 1697, represent the competences a mediator, whether on the political or domestic level, need to have in order to intervene in a conflictual situation.