The role of mediators in armed conflicts is becoming increasingly difficult. With many of today’s conflicts taking place in murky contexts of non-conventional violence, where the state is weak and multiple armed groups operate with diverse agendas, mediators are faced with many challenges. Not only is it more difficult to understand the rapidly changing contexts in which violence is taking place, as well as the internal structures and illicit interests of the actors involved, but a range of complex issues are now emerging.
Due to their political constraints, the official mediators that lead peace efforts (governments, and regional and international organisations such as the UN) are increasingly working alongside non-official mediators (NGOs, insider mediators, religious and humanitarian actors, etc.) to overcome these challenges, in particular in engaging armed groups. However, the role of non-official mediators entails a new series of dilemmas requiring careful attention. Beyond the question of coherence and coordination in peace efforts, the array of actors currently involved in mediation in armed conflicts generates other significant risks.
This report explores the challenges of mediating in today’s armed conflicts and episodes of nonconventional violence, the role of official and non-official mediators, the risks and dilemmas that these different roles imply, and what basic guidelines are needed in the future.