In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Spatial Dependencies and International Mediation

  • Introduction
  • International Mediation Effectiveness and Spatial Dependence

International Relations Spatial Dependencies and International Mediation
Tobias Böhmelt
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 September 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0127


Independent of the focus on inter- or intrastate conflict, available data suggest that there is a downward trend in the onset of low-intensity conflicts and even full-scale wars at least since the end of the Cold War. That said, violence, disputes, and, more generally, threats to human security persist. And, in fact, while conflict, both at the intrastate and interstate level, may have become substantially less frequent in the recent past, it did not vanish completely. Finding ways to prevent conflict in the first place or a peaceful resolution once it has broken out thus remains of vital interest to policymakers and scholars alike. If conflict belligerents cannot find a peaceful solution themselves, international mediation is a frequently used tool. But what are the drivers behind the onset of mediation in interstate and civil conflicts? What makes international mediation more effective? The following article seeks to review the existent literature on these questions, paying particular attention to the issues of “spatial dependence” and “diffusion.” In other words, there is the focus on the question whether mediation diffuses within and across conflicts, and thus why and how mediation in one dispute may affect the likelihood (and effectiveness) of mediation in another. The review begins by offering a general overview of the review’s main components: international mediation and spatial dependence. The relevant work in the broader field of research is also discussed, that is, contagion in conflict studies; there is a short overview of quantitative approaches to spatial-dependency work. The article then proceeds by examining the factors that have been identified as main influences of mediation onset and effectiveness, to give the reader the necessary background. Afterward, the review studies the relevant mechanisms of mediation diffusion in detail. Against this background, we are then able to address the core of this review, spatial dependencies and international mediation, where it is focused on spatial dependencies within and across conflicts. The article finishes with an outlook that primarily focuses on the understudied aspect of spatial dependence and mediation effectiveness.

General Overviews

This review first deals with those studies that offer a general overview of the review’s core concepts: International Mediation and Spatial Dependence and Diffusion. It also addresses the underlying and broader research field of conflict contagion and points to the literature dealing with methodological aspects, particularly in quantitative studies of spatial dependence. This section, thus, provides the necessary background information, definitions, and literature. Based on this, we are then able to move to more detailed aspects of spatial dependence and international mediation.

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