Ethics and Methods of Peace Mediation
Since the Center was founded in 2008, its goal is to make peace mediation more reflective and thereby more responsible and effective. Activities are chosen and designed in view of whether they have the potential to stimulate small but critical systemic changes in this direction.
Synergies between Science and Practice
In one way or another, all activities bring together the science and practice of peace mediation in order to enable us to learn from, question and improve both practical and scholarly work in this field.
Mediation as frame of thinking
The Center uses mediation not only as a conflict facilitation method, but also as a general framework to analyze conflicts, design processes, shape policy and strategy work and, last but not least, to manage its own cooperative relations and its workplace.
In all regards, mediation means integrating, communicating and balancing the multiplicity of interests that motivate individual and institutional interaction.
Sometimes this understanding of mediation implies that conflicts cannot and need not be resolved. But it implies, too, that conflicts always can and must be handled according to the interests of the actors involved.
Interests as the heart of mediation
Interests make conflicts hard to solve and mediation able to work: They are the reason why people engage in a conflict and in efforts to resolve it.
Only approaches that take into account all relevant interests involved in and affected by a conflict have the potential to manage the conflict on all sides in a satisfying and thus on the whole sustainable way. And all interests means all those interests, also and especially the complex, multifaceted, unconscious, hidden, taboo and blurred ones.
That's why, in a nutshell, mediation means "processing interests": it is a careful but insisting process of collecting, formulating, testing, reformulating, interrelating, negotiating and combining interests until all are factored in.
Dilemma management as a paradigm
The complexity of international conflicts, the rules of the international system and the logic of mediation produce multiple dilemmas for peace mediators.
For instance, mediation actors, donors and mandate-givers need to have strong self-interests to engage and keep to a mediation process against many odds. At the same time, those interests can easily do harm to the process and the people affected by the conflict.
Peace mediation needs a reflective and pragmatic dilemma routine (based on strategies such as transparency, reframing, prioritizing and sequencing) to prevent harm being done when making trade-off in view of these dilemmas.