“Strengthening Mediation to Deal with Criminal Agendas”: Paper by James Cockayne


  • 2014•01•03     New York

    James Cockayne, Head of the UNU Office at the United Nations, has published a new paper, “Strengthening Mediation to Deal with Criminal Agendas“, as part of the Oslo Forum Papers (a series published by the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue).

    The paper takes an in-depth look at the growing prevalence of criminal agendas in armed conflicts as well as the complex implications that these agendas have for conflict mediation — which traditionally has focused only on political and ideological agendas. Using case study examples in which criminal agendas have been (successfully or unsuccessfully) challenged, the paper explores such questions as:

    • When are criminal agendas best ignored by mediators?
    • When do criminal agendas risk spoiling peace processes?
    • What can — and should — mediators do to prevent such spoiling?

    The paper offers insights into how the practice of mediation can adjust to take on negotiation between groups with criminal agendas, or negotiation between these groups and the state. It provides recommendations for upholding the fundamentals of the mediation process — such as preparedness, consent and inclusive ownership, impartiality and legal frameworks, and coherence and implementation — in the presence of criminal agendas.

    Cockayne suggests an overall need for both realism about what mediation alone can achieve, and optimism about the role of mediation as a catalyst of the broader processes of socioeconomic transformation likely to influence and confront criminal agendas in the longer term.

    For more information, or to download the paper, please visit the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue website.