Mediating Asymmetrical Conflict

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article examines the characteristics of asymmetrical conflicts and obstacles to negotiation and mediation. Four barriers are elaborated upon: (a) enduring unilateral actions, (b) contested recognition and leadership status, (c) existential and identity-based framing of conflict and (d) conflicting interpretation of implementation. Consequently, intervention in asymmetric conflicts poses a tremendous challenge for international mediators. To gain legitimacy is particularly troublesome since there often exists a huge discrepancy in the expectations of mediation between strong and weak parties. The empirical case of Norwegian and American mediation is analysed as pure and principal mediation. The conclusion is that the two types of mediation do not directly address the question of the asymmetrical nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In sum, international mediation is a double-edged instrument in asymmetrical conflicts - particularly principal mediation, as it may produce counterproductive results.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • Förhandlingar, Internationell politik
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-91
JournalMediterranean Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch