Third parties and the tacit mediation of intra-state conflict: Negotiating with an elephant in the next room

Date of Completion

January 2007


Political Science, International Law and Relations




Current research on the role of the international context on intrastate conflict tends to focus on third party intervention or other forms of direct action. Yet, disputants may also anticipate a potential intervention and alter their behavior so as to avoid outside interference or to compel a potential third party to enter the conflict in some fashion. When this occurs, a potential third party has indirectly affected the conflict process. I refer to this phenomenon as tacit mediation. Tacit mediation operates through a constellation of forces, including diplomatic signals sent to conflict participants, the probability of third party intervention, and the material ability of a third party to affect a conflict. The impact of these forces is examined through a statistical analysis of US diplomatic signals on conflict duration in 150 intrastate conflicts. ^