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Conflict and Third Party Mediation


This dissertation focuses on the effects of a third-party mediator in protracted conflict settings. I primarily use formal models based on game theory and mechanism design, employing case studies and empirical work to further my analysis. The question of mediation effectiveness in the literature is still an open one, addressed empirically but with little theoretical support. While some work has emphasized the important role of enforcement, there is no consensus as to whether, how and why these tactics work. I use formal modeling to examine the mediator's enforcement ability and show the ways in which manipulative mediation can in fact improve upon bilateral results. The first chapter examines the use of different types of enforcement in conflict mediation. This paper compares potential outcomes of bilateral negotiations with the outcomes achievable with the help of a mediator capable of various levels of enforcement, seeking to gain insight into how to end ongoing war using a signaling framework. I find that a mediator with sufficient enforcement capabilities can improve on the bilateral outcome, perhaps creating peace that would not have been possible bilaterally. However, while exhibiting enforcement capabilities can help a mediator to mandate peace in the short term, there can sometimes be a lower likelihood of lasting results, consistent with stylized facts about mediation. The second chapter models conditions for efficiency gains from third- party conflict mediation when concessions are risky. Each party engaged in a conflict can indicate its interest in peace through costly signaling, or concessions. Through a formal model, I explore ways in which a mediator can act as a guarantor that promised concessions will be delivered, thereby reducing inefficiencies and increasing the potential for peace. In this process, I open up a rationale for mediation: to remove the inefficiencies of signaling in the pre-play round of negotiations. The third chapter uses a game-theoretic framework to explain the persistence of de facto independent states that are not internationally recognized. This paper uses a four-player, game-theoretic framework to model the stalemates that often arise between the secessionist elite and home state central government and leverages this model to explore paths to settlement. We emphasize the pivotal role of an outside patron in sustaining unrecognized statehood as a stable equilibrium, but we also argue that the international community is capable of inducing peaceful settlement in these conflicts if it is sufficiently motivated to do so

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