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Leverage of Intergovernmental Organizations and States in African Civil War Mediation

©2015 Hausarbeit 26 Seiten


In this paper, I will take the perspective of multi-party mediation in order to contribute to a better understanding of the “comparative institutional strengths and weaknesses” of different types of mediators with regard to leverage.

Leverage has long been a central concern of mediators and researchers. The more surprising it seems that a concentrated investigation of the concept has only started to be undertaken very recently . Lindsay Reid has defined leverage as “the potential influence a mediator has to alter disputants’ incentives so that they may reach an agreement.”
So far, there is no clear idea of what advantages different types of mediators have with regard to leverage. The literature often distinguishes between individual, regional, international and state mediators .

In the framework of this paper, I will investigate the mediation efforts of two of them, namely a state and an intergovernmental organization (IGO), to analyze the ways in which they use their attributes and resources to generate leverage.



List of Abbreviations


Research Question, Research Method and Case Selection

Conceptual Framework and Literature Review
Mediator Leverage
IGOs and States as mediators

Chronology of Mediation in Darfur

Credibility Leverage of Chad and the AU
Relations with the Parties
Mediator Bias

Capability Leverage of Chad and the AU
Military, Economic and Political Power
Mediation Capacities



List of Abbreviations

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The emerging concept of multi-party mediation suggests that mediation is increasingly being recognized as a dynamic, multi-layered process. Within this process, various mediators may have a role to play. Christopher Mitchell, amongst others, has argued in favor of “abandoning the assumption that all functions involved in a mediation process must be fulfilled by one actor in favor of allowing a variety of actors fulfill the variety of functions that need to be fulfilled.”[1] The authors of “Herding Cats: Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World” have taken up this idea, by referring tothe “comparative institutional strengths and weaknesses”[2] of various mediators. In practice, multi-party mediation continues to be a recurring phenomenon, with 31 percent of disputes between 1945 and 2001 having been mediated by several third parties.[3]

In this paper, I will take the perspective of multi-party mediation in order to contribute to a better understanding of the “comparative institutional strengths and weaknesses” of different types of mediators with regard to leverage. Leverage has long been a central concern of mediators and researchers. The more surprising it seems that a concentrated investigation of the concept has only started to be undertaken very recently[4]. Lindsay Reid has defined leverage as “the potential influence a mediator has to alter disputants’ incentives so that they may reach an agreement.”[5] So far, there is no clear idea of what advantages different types of mediators have with regard to leverage. The literature often distinguishes between individual, regional, international and state mediators[6]. In the framework of this paper, I will investigate the mediation efforts of two of them, namely a state and an intergovernmental organization (IGO), to analyze the ways in which they use their attributes and resources to generate leverage.

For the purpose of this paper, I will use the definition of Bercovitch et al. (1991) of mediation as “a process of conflict management where disputants seek the assistance of, or accept an offer of help from, an individual, group, or organization to settle their conflict or resolve their differences without resorting to physical force or invoking the authority of the law.”[7] Beyond thatthe analysis will be limited to intrastate conflict in Africa. First, a large literature on civil wars has shown that civil wars are in many respects qualitatively different from interstate conflicts.[8] Mediation of civil wars will have to take these particularities into account.[9] Second, most violent conflicts today are civil wars[10], and in particular African civil wars. The strongly quantitative focus of mediation research has from time to time neglected the importance of contextual conflict dynamics and their implications for mediation efforts. For instance, the analysis of state mediators has sometimes been reduced to Western states and their characteristics have implicitly been assumed as being given in any state mediation (such as wealth of resources, political, economic and military might, high level of state consolidation etc.).[11] As I will try to show, such an assumption is not necessarily tenable in the African context.

Research Question, Research Method and Case Selection

Within these boundaries, the following research question will guide the analysis: How do the attributes and resources of states and regional organizations impact their capacity to exert leverage on the warring parties in civil war mediation?

In order to answer this question, I will conduct a case study of a multi-party mediation process where both an (African) state and an (African) intergovernmental organization have undertaken mediation work. Following Yin’s typology of case studies, the design corresponds to an “embedded single-case design.”[12] A case study appears to be the most appropriate approach to the research question for two reasons. On the one hand, case studies allow for in-depth analysis of “complex causal relations.”[13] Identifying causal paths will be crucial for the analysis because it aims at identifying the causal links between the attributes and resources of the different mediators and their capacity to generate and exercise leverage on the disputants with the aim of resolving conflict. On the other hand, case studies can be particularly useful for the “heuristic identification of new variables and hypotheses.”[14] As argued above, the individual comparative institutional advantages of different mediators have not been identified yet. This paper thus aims at inductively developing new hypotheses about the leverage of different mediators. In regard of the large array of contextual factors that impact mediation processes, the derived hypotheses are only suggested in the context of African intrastate conflicts.

With these objectives in mind, I suggest an analysis of the conflict in Darfur between 2003 and 2006. During this time span, both neighboring Chad and the African Union (AU) served as mediators, brokering respectively the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement in April 2004 and the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006. Since the AU and Chad were the two official mediators up to 2006, Darfur provides an interesting case where the context can be hold constant (embedded single-case design). Therefore, it is being assumed that the comparative capacities of exerting leverage on the disputants of the AU and Chad have to a large extent been conditioned by their identity (attributes and resources) rather than other contextual factors. Differently put, as the mediator varies while the context remains (approximately) constant, the case may offer interesting insights into the relationship between mediator identity and exercise of leverage.

Before getting into the analysis of the AU’s and Chad’s use of leverage in the mediation process in Darfur, I will first review the literature on the role of leverage in mediation as well as the characteristics of states and IGOs as mediators. Beyond that, I will briefly introduce both the parties to the conflict and the mediators as well as provide a short history of the Darfur conflict. After the analysis of the mediation process between 2003 and 2006, I will conclude with a short discussion of the comparative advantages of states and IGOs as mediators when it comes to leverage.

Conceptual Framework and Literature Review

Mediator Leverage

As the above mentioned definition of ‘leverage’ points out, the concept describes the capacity of the mediator to influence the disputants. Lindsay Reid, whose idea of leverage will serve as the main conceptual reference for this paper, holds that “a mediator’s influence is a function of a number of properties of the mediator itself, both material and immaterial.”[15] Reid distinguishes between two dimensions of leverage: capability and credibility; capability “involves getting others to do what one wants through acts of coercion.”[16] Credibility, on the other hand, describes the “influence a mediator is able to exert over the mediation process through its contextual knowledge of the conflict and connections to the disputants.”[17] In previous research, leverage has often implicitly been equated with capabilities.[18] As Reid argues, however, a more comprehensive understanding of the concept, including credibility, is needed.

Capability leverage refers first and foremost to hard power, in particular military, economic and political might.[19] These “resources”[20] can be used either as carrots or sticks.[21] In the first case, they are used to increase the benefits of peace (e.g. through side-payments[22] ), in the latter to increase the costs of war (e.g. through economic sanctions). Hence, theses resources can be used to shift the incentives of the disputants such that a peace agreement becomes more acceptable.[23] Thesemediation strategies have sometimes been called “manipulative” or “directive,” and some quantitative studies have shown that directive strategies are more effective than “communication-facilitation” or “procedural-formulative” strategies.[24] However, while the use of manipulative strategies to achieve a peace agreement has been emphasized by a number of authors[25], they have also been criticized for being unsustainable: Because the additional incentives can only be maintained temporarily, the disputants, facing a time-inconsistency problem once these additional incentives are gone, may resort to fighting in the long run.[26] Beyond these hard powers, and while not being mentioned by Reid, communicative capacities and mediation resources may be further highly valuable capabilities for third parties when engaging in mediation.

Credibility leverage, in contrast, refers to soft powers, and has been described by Reid as “contextual knowledge of the conflict and connections to the disputants.”[27] These factors and others have often been discussed under the framework of mediator bias. According to Beber, mediator bias “refers to the extent to which the third party derives utility from the allocation of the stakes to each side in the dispute.”[28] Bias can be useful to “extract the necessary concession”[29] from the mediator’s ally, to increase the stakes of the mediator in the conflict and thus make him invest resources, or, if the mediator is government-biased, to overcome the commitment problem of the rebel group by credibly signaling the latter’s commitment towards the government.[30] Quite interestingly, while a bias towards one of the parties is often considered to increase mediation effectiveness, a bias towardspeace has often been thought of as harmful. This is because “if the mediator is too focused on preventing conflict or does not care about the issue in dispute, it will be tempted to say whatever maximizes the likelihood of agreement, namely that the two sides are trustworthy.”[31]

IGOs and States as mediators

Following the literature on IGOs and states as mediators, one of their main advantage concerns their geographical, social and cultural proximity to the disputants.[32] Indeed, their capabilities are rather seldom emphasized. While it is being recognized that states dispose of a large range of policy options for intervention[33], due to their state sovereignty, most authors regard the capabilities of states in mediation efforts as limited. This has to do with their budgetary constraints (and a lack of incentive to provide for the security of other states[34] ), domestic political constraints[35], as well as weak domestic institutions, in particular in the African context[36]. IGOs, in contrast, may have the advantage of being able to pool their resources.[37] Furthermore, the members of IGOs can add up their economic weight which may allow them to impose effective sanctions on the disputants[38]. On the downside, the capabilities of IGOs are limited by the willingness of their member states to invest in a given mediation effort. Beyond that, the leverage capability of IGOs depends to large extent on their institutional capacities, their mandate, and the coherence of their members.[39] For instance, a peace and security mandate, in particular if combined with capable peacekeeping forces, can considerably enhance both the capability and the credibility leverage of IGOs in mediation processes.[40] However, if there is no such mandate, taking resolute action to resolve an intrastate conflict will be almost impossible.

As already mentioned, the connections between regional and (neighboring) state mediators and the disputants are frequently mentioned in the literature as a considerable advantage with regard to UN mediation for instance.[41] Because of their proximity, states and IGOs are more likely to have a stake in the conflict and its outcome, which can make their efforts more credible. Indeed, while non-regional mediators usually leave the country after having finished their mediation efforts, states and IGOs stay and have to live with whatever agreement they were able to mediate.[42] Some authors have also underlined IGO’s capacity to credibly provide private information[43], for instance about the military capacities of the warring parties. (Disputants have an incentive to over-report their capacities in order to get a better deal at the negotiation table.) However, the level of trust enjoyed by IGOs should not be overestimated and remains limited[44], depending on the level of institutionalization. Finally, while having a stake in the outcome of negotiations can enhance the credibility of the mediator, strong interests, in particular of states, are often associated with bias towards one party or the other[45] (or even towards peace, as mentioned above).Such clear interests include for instance limiting flows of refugees or curtailing territorial aspirations of rebel groups[46].These interests may decrease the (perceived) credibility of the mediator. In fact, it may be that the mediating state is a patron of rebel groups[47], as has been the case during the negotiations of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). The following table sums up the strengths and weaknesses of states and IGOs as mediators with regard to their capability and credibility leverage:

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Chronology of Mediation in Darfur

Before analyzing the use of leverage of Chad and the AU in Darfur in detail, I will first give a brief overview of the conflict in Darfur and the mediation efforts that have been undertaken.The roots of conflict in Darfur are multifaceted and complex. Alex de Waal has in particular emphasized the marginalization of the Sudanese periphery and the hyper-dominant, yet instable, center of Khartoum.[48] However, land conflicts[49] and issues of identity without doubt also contributed to the intractability of the conflict. Beyond that, external factors such as regional instability[50] and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005[51] also have an important role to play.

The armed rebellion in Darfur started in 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement/ Army (SLM/A) attacked Gulu, the capital of Jebel Marra province, joined later on by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).[52] While the former draws its recruits from the Fur and some members of the Zaghawa and Masalit groups[53], the latter is predominantly made up of Zaghawa[54] and is “substantially drawn from the ranks of the dissident Islamists” after the split of the Islamist movement in 1999[55]. The Government of Sudan (GoS), in return, countered the attacks through the Janjaweed, an Arab militia armed by Khartoum since the 1980s to “prevent African Darfuris from joining the Southern Sudanese rebellion against the government.”[56]

As early as late August 2003, Idriss Déby, the president of Chad, mediated talks between the GoS and the SLM/A in the Chadian border town of Abéché[57]. These led to the first ceasefire agreement between the GoS and the SLM/A on September 3 providing for a cessation of hostilities for 45 days.[58] Despite the parties’ failure to comply with the ceasefire, further talks were held between October 26 and November 4, again mediated by Déby.[59] While the ceasefire could be prolonged once more at the end of the meeting[60], talks finally broke down in December in N’djamena before they had really started – supposedly because of “unacceptable rebel demands” (Chadian interior minister).[61] After the GoS had finally accepted the presence of international observers (from the United States, the EU, France and the AU),[62] talks resumed at the end of March, 2004 in N’djamena. Both parties agreed on April 8th to sign the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the Darfur conflict and a protocol on the establishment of humanitarian assistance in Darfur. The Ceasefire Agreement provided for a 45-day-ceasefire and the establishment of a Joint Commission and a Ceasefire Commission. In addition, the AU Peace and Security Council authorized in May the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to “monitor, verify, investigate and report on violations of the ceasefire.”[63]

While fighting continued, the AU was made the mediator in the following Abuja Peace Talks, with Déby retaining a co-chair status. The first Round of the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks on the Conflict in Darfur took place in July 2004 in Addis Ababa.During the Fifth Round in June and July 2005, the parties signed the Declaration of Principles that had been subject of discussions of previous rounds. In September, during the Sixth Round, the most difficult talks about power sharing, wealth sharing and security arrangements resumed. In a dramatic Seventh Round, a partial agreement could finally be reached. This last round of talks took from November 2005 to May 2006. In particular the last days were characterized by strong tensions, resulting from several deadlines that had been imposed on the parties and then prolonged again. Furthermore, US Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick and UK Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, joined the mediation to urge the parties to sign. At the end, besides the GoS, only the SLM fraction led by Minni Minawi agreed to sign the DPA. Both JEM and the SLM fraction led by Abdel Wahid refused their signature.

Hence, while the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement had been mediated by Déby, the Abuja talks were mediated by the AU. With the deteriorating relationship between N’djamena and Khartoum throughout 2005 and 2006, the Seventh Round of the Abuja Talks was finally exclusively chaired by the AU.[64]

Credibility Leverage of Chad and the AU

Relations with the Parties

The strong ties between N’djamena and Khartoum have by many observers been considered one of the major pitfalls of the Chadian mediation efforts, because they progressively undermined the confidence of the rebels into Déby as a mediator. These ties date from Bashir’s support for Déby’s coup in 1990 to access power in N’djamena.[65] Throughout the 1990s, the relations between the two heads of states remained “excellent”.[66] However, with the beginning of the rebellion in Darfur, the relations started to deteriorate. Since many of the rebels were Zaghawa, just like Déby, Bashir naturally expected Déby to be able to inhibit support from the Chadian Zaghawa for the Darfurian rebels.[67] Déby, however, while showing good will by sending about 500 troops to Darfur in support of Bashir, was unable to control even the Zaghawa elements within his own government.[68] In fact, Chadian army and even presidential guard officers supported Zaghawa rebels in Darfur with arms.[69] The resulting dynamic of mutual mistrust accelerated up to the point where Bashir and Déby launched a proxy war against each other and Déby declared in November 2005 that he was in a “state of war with Sudan”[70]. As a result, while there were indeed close political ties between Bashir and Déby, the latter was unable to use them for his mediation efforts because of the downward dynamic of deteriorating trust between Bashir and Déby, rooted in Déby’s ethnic links to the rebel movements.

At the same time, the potentially useful ethnic ties between Déby and the rebels were to a large extent undermined by the complete absence of trust of the rebel movements into the Chadian government. The longstanding close relationship between Déby and Bashir certainly has a role to play in this lack of trust, but Déby’s behavior during negotiations was probably even more harmful in this respect (as will be discussed in the section on bias). Nevertheless, these bonds with the rebels have helped Déby establish a first relationship. In fact, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has estimated that Déby could use “his personal connections to Zaghawa leaders among the SLA”[71] to convene a first meeting in late August, 2003.

While in general the AU had a more neutral stance towards both parties, the institutional links to Khartoum as a member of the AU could have been, theoretically, useful for the AU’s mediation efforts. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to retrace what role these links have actually played. What seems to be more certain, however, is that the links were not fully exploited (in particular with regard to the political and economic capabilities of the AU) and even caused considerable problems resulting from the circulating chairmanship of the AU. During the Abuja peace talks, the AU leadership had to defer Sudan’s chairmanship twice. As Kagwanja & Mutahi point out, a Sudanese chairmanship of the AU would have dismantled the AU’s capacity to mediate peace talks and would have posed serious challenges with regard to AMIS.[72]

From rebel perspective, the access of the AU to the principal mediator position during the Abuja peace talks, taking over from Chad, was a major improvement. However, there were no special ties between the AU and the rebels that could have facilitated negotiations. The declaration of Wahid, the leader of the SLA, that “the AU will not determine the future of my people”[73] suggests that the AU was perceived as a foreign, though respected, player. In exchange, the AU had large access to regional powers which it used to include them in the peace process. Considering the regional dimension of the conflict, this access to other heads of states can be seen as a real asset. For instance, the AU convened a meeting in mid-October in Tripoli to discuss the conflict in Darfur at which Khaddafi, Mubarak, Bashir, Déby, Obasanjo and the chairman of the AU Commission Konaré participated.[74]

Mediator Bias

As theorized, national interests played a crucial role in Chad’s mediation strategy and strongly influenced Déby’s bias towards Khartoum.In particular, the large influx of refugees into eastern Chad[75] threatened to destabilize the region. Such a destabilization of the situation in Chad would have benefitted opposition elements and endangered Déby’s hold on power. Déby’s lacking support for the Darfurian Zaghawa, a result of Déby’s traditional alliance with Khartoum, increased domestic discontent and even led to an attempted coup in May 2004.[76] According to Abiodun, Déby’s fear of a spillover of the conflict into Chad was the very reason why he engaged in mediation.[77] Most likely, by favoring Khartoum in the negotiations, Déby hoped that the crisis could be terminated rapidly and that he could maintain his good relations with Bashir.

However, from the very beginning, the rebels voiced their discomfort with the Chadian mediator. The JEM for instance was unwilling to participate in the Abéché talks because it considered Chad to be biased.[78] Later on, the SLA demanded international observers to be present at the talks in order to mitigate the Chadian bias.[79] After the breakdown of the talks in December 2003, Chad’s interior minister clearly took sides when telling the press: “There has been a breakdown in negotiations because of unacceptable rebel demands. The talks have been suspended; it’s a failure.”[80] After signing the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement, the rebels were no longer willing to accept such an openly biased mediation, and responsibilities were handed over to the AU.

In sight of the AU’s reluctance “to apply diplomatic pressure on Khartoum,”[81] it may be argued that the AU was also biased towards the GoS. Even if this was the case, however, the bias wasmuch less harmful to the AU’s relationship with the rebels, compared to Chad. In fact, there is some evidence that a relationship of trust could be built up between the rebel movements and the AU. For instance, during the Seventh Round of the Abuja talks, the parties charted “the positions of their forces on secret maps to be kept solely in the possession of the mediator’s team, in order to identify their exact locations on the ground […].”[82] Although there thus was a sufficient amount of working trust between the rebels and the AU, the credibility leverage of the AU over the movements remained nevertheless very limited. For instance, when the SLM/A was about to split, the AU’s efforts to strengthen the internal cohesion of the group in Nairobi failed. Only in a second attempt, “through the efforts exerted by the government of Chad, with the support of the AU, Eritrea, and Libya,”[83] the leaders of the SLM/A Abdel Wahid and Minni Minawi reached an agreement – which, however, “was never implemented”[84].

Thisexample, as well as the establishment of first contacts through Déby, shows that Chad’s more local bonds have in some instances been superior to the AU’s regional outlook. In return, the AU had better access to regional powers that were indirectly concerned by the conflict (meeting of regional powers in Tripoli). Beyond that, however, the bonds between mediator and parties have provided little added-value for mediation in Darfur. Rather, the strong bias of the Chadian government towards the GoS must be considered a major pitfall of Déby’s mediation activities. The potential advantages of a mediator bias, which can be found in the literature, were not actualized in the case of Darfur. Interestingly, neither Chad nor the AU used their bonds towards Khartoum to build up any kind of credibility leverage. Most likely, the former was not able to, due to his dependency on Khartoum, whereas the latter was not willing to, due to the political preferences of its member states. Indeed, the foregoing analysis has shown that domestic constraints (Chad) and interests (AU member states) can greatly impact the behavior of the mediator.In particular in the case of a state mediator, domestic conditions must not be overlooked.A non-consolidated state mediator may face great difficulties in maintaining a credible stance when other parts of his government pursue a policy that differs from or even contradict the mediator’s position. In the case of Chad, the fact that Déby had no control over all Zaghawa elements in his army strongly undermined his capacity to be recognized as a credible mediator.

Capability Leverage of Chad and the AU

Military, Economic and Political Power

Chad, in particular with regard to Sudan, had little military, economic or political power. The constant non-compliance with the ceasefire of Abéché and the Humanitarian Ceasefire was one of the major drawbacks of the peace process.[85] Chad, lacking both the capacity and legitimacy to conduct a peacekeeping mission in Darfur was fairly powerless with regard to the ongoing fighting. Chad’s strategy of denial (the ceasefire “has been respected”[86] ), possibly linked to its bias towards the GoS, was without doubt a very unsatisfactory handling of the problem, specifically from rebel perspective.

Beyond this, however, because of Déby’s precarious domestic position, the Chadian mediation also suffered from a lack of agency. In the mediation process, Déby could only react to events instead of shaping them. At first, he was put under pressure from Khartoum to stop the Chadian support for the rebels. The fact that the government of Chad decided to play down the event of Sudanese bombs falling on Chadian territory[87] shows that Déby tried to maintain his relations with Bashir in order to rapidly fix the Darfur problem. As mentioned above, the heavy influx of refugees from Darfur threatened to destabilize his position in power. At a later stage of negotiations, when Déby realized that the deteriorating support from Chadian Zaghawa for his presidency had become an even bigger threat to his position in N’djamena, he shifted his support towards the rebels and launched a proxy war against Sudan.[88] This lack of agency made it impossible for Déby to adopt a coherent mediation strategy. As pointed out above, a large portion of his motivation to engage in Darfur can be assigned to concerns about his domestic position.

Considering this lack of hard power, it may seem somewhat surprising that the Chadian mediator was twice able to convince the rebels to sign a ceasefire agreement that did not respond to some of their key demands. Most authors have attributed the rebels’ willingness to sign to their lack of experience. When the Chadian mediator assured them that their demands would be discussed after the agreement had been signed, they seemed to believe Déby.[89] The fact that Déby did not keep his promise did certainly not help for further Chadian mediation efforts.

The AU, whose explicit mandate is it to “promote peace, security, and stability on the continent,”[90] was,in contrast,able to provide for a peacekeeping mission. While AMIS “has received some praise for improving a grim security situation,”[91] for instance in the UN Security Council Resolution 1706 (“AMIS’ role in reducing large-scale organized violence in Darfur”[92] ), the mission was ultimately unable to keep the peace in Darfur. AMIS suffered from a lack of manpower, equipment, logistical support and funding.[93] As pointed out by Keith, domestic politics of AU member states again played a role in this: South Africa has at the time “faced a public backlash over its high foreign peacekeeping expenditures during a major crime wave at home.”[94] In addition, as is often the case for IGOs, there needs to be a considerable amount of political will to adopt a robust peacekeeping mandate.The consequences of AMIS’s lacking capability were clearly noticeable when Abdul Wahid from the SLM/A refused to sign the DPA because he demanded a reliable assurance that the agreement would be imposed vis-à-vis Khartoum: “I need a guarantee for implementation like Bosnia.”[95] The AU’s Peace and Security Commissioner, Said Djinnit, has accurately described the shortcomings of AMIS when stating that “the AU was being asked to provide shelter when its house had no roof.”[96]

As already indicated, the AU was unwilling to use its economic and political weight to put pressure on Khartoum. Without doubt, lack of political will of the AU member states, resulting in particular from their fear of domestic repercussions of economic sanctions against the GoS, has greatly contributed to the reluctance of the AU to use its potential capability leverage. However, as mentioned by Adam Keith, the institutional design and procedures of the AU, in particular decision-making by consensus,have also impeded more resolute action.[97]

Mediation Capacities

Both Chad and the AU have been criticized for a lack of professionalism in their mediation efforts.[98] For instance, the parties, in particular the GoS, have been considered to negotiate in bad faith, exploiting the talks as a “tactical forum” with no real interest in a peace agreement.[99] Neither Chad nor the AU seriously addressed this problem. Notwithstanding, the qualitative difference between the mediation capacities of Chad and those of the AU needs to be recognized.

Chad’s lack of professionalism can be attributed both to its urgent interest in a quick fix and its lacking mediation expertise. In regard of the large flows of refugees, with sometimes more than 10,000 people entering Chad within one week[100], Chad tried to accelerate the process by usurping ownership of the peace process. During the talks in N’djamena in April 2004, “Déby and his team […] assumed complete control, presenting the parties with a draft agreement – in English, French and Arabic – while minimising opportunity for them to respond.”[101] That such an externally imposed agreement could probably not be sustained because the parties did not own the process was simply ignored by the Chadian mediator. Furthermore, the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement was presented with a number of flaws that made it very unlikely tolead to peace. De Waal went so far as to suggest that “N’djamena was not an agreement at all.”[102]

Firstly, the agreement did not contain any maps that would have been needed for the AU to effectively monitor the ceasefire.[103] Secondly, the agreement did not define the key terms, such that there was no consensus on what was meant by “militia” or “neutralization.”[104] Thirdly, as the ICG has ascertained, the English, French and Arabic versions of the ceasefire agreement were not equivalent.[105] And finally, De Waal provides a detailed account of how the Chadian mediator inserted by hand a sentence into Khartoum’s version of the agreement, upon which the latter had insisted, but with which the SLA did not agree.[106] All these flaws led to considerable problems that hindered an effective peace process. They show that Chad had neither the experience nor the expertise to successfully mediate the negotiations between the GoS and the rebels.

When considering the mediation capacities of the AU, one has to take into account that, after its new foundation in 2002, it was still a very young organization that had not been fully established when it engaged in mediations in Darfur in 2004. Nathan has repeatedly pointed to the insufficient mediation capabilities of the AU. He criticizes that the AU lacks expertise, has inadequate institutional support, no institutional memory and learning and no viable concept of mediation.[107] As a result, AU mediation efforts are “ad hoc rather than […] systematic [and] professionalized.”[108] For example, the AU did not pay sufficient attention to the problem of internal coherence of the rebel parties. Ultimately, this was one of the major drawbacks of the DPA, since only Minawi, but not Wahid, signed the agreement from the SLM/A. In fact, according to Hottinger, the “AU continued to deal with the SLM/A as if it were one party long after the split” between the two leaders “was public.”[109]

A further problem with far-reaching consequences was the lack of funds. Since the AU received most of the funds for its mediation from external donors, it had to respond to international demands to produce results. These demands increased in sight of the humanitarian catastrophe and the rhetoric of genocide used both amongst United States and United Nations officials. Nathan and De Waal have emphasized that the mediators were “put under great pressure by their funders.”[110] As a result, during the last days before the signing of the DPA, the AU was made “almost entirely spectators,”[111] while representatives from the United States and the United Kingdom pressured the rebels to sign the agreement. Thus, because of its insufficient own funding, the AU lackedultimate control over the process.

The lack of funding was maybe the main reason why the AU and its international partners and donors adopted deadline diplomacy during the Seventh Round of the Abuja talks. Several deadlines were imposed on the parties to sign the agreement, and then prolonged when in particular Wahid continued to insist on further discussions about power and wealth sharing. As the deadlines were not backed by action, they were largely ineffective and ultimately failed to make the SLM-Wahid and JEM sign the DPA. More importantly, deadline diplomacy impeded the parties to talk through the points of disagreement in order to develop a document that all parties would consider as just – and thus comply with.[112]

Despite these drawbacks, mediation activities significantly improved when the AU took over from Chad. In fact, it wasthe AU which suggested to work towards a comprehensive peace agreement that would also take into account the political demands of the rebels.[113] Secondly, the AU undertook efforts to adopt a coherent mediation strategy that would be coordinated with its international partners.[114] Thirdly, the AU addressed the inequality between the GoS and the rebel leaders in terms of negotiation capacities by organizing a seminar dealing with negotiation techniques during the Third Round of the Abuja talks.[115] Fourthly, as Nathan has suggested, “the AU mediation team for Darfur had deep knowledge of the history and conflict dynamics of western Sudan and utilized many specialists as advisers on the thematic issues.”[116] In this regard, the bonds of the AU to the history and culture of Darfur were certainly of great value. Yet, it needs to be recognized that Chad, despite also disposing of such bonds, was not able to mobilize a similar expertise.

Finally, the AU had access to a considerable number of high-level personalities who intervened during the peace process, including Hamid al Gabid, Olusegun Obasanjo and Salim Ahmed Salim.[117] Toga has estimated that the signing of the Declaration of Principles in July 2005 “was made possible by high-level interventions from African leaders and the international community.”[118] While these leaders were available for short-term interventions, the head of the AU team, Sam Ibok, nevertheless recognized that he “could not find suitably experienced mediators to join the process on short notice and for an extended period.”[119]


To conclude, I will deduct five hypotheses from the foregoing analysis about mediator leverage. While many of them may seem obvious, and are in many ways, the mediation literature does not appear to have fully recognized them. It should also be noted that the hypotheses are based on the analysis ofa single case. Further research would have to test them by analyzing other mediation processes.

1. Different ties of different mediators can be useful at different stages of mediation.

As discussed above, the more local ties of Chad could be used to establish a first contact to the rebel groups. On the other hand, the regional ties of the AU were instrumental in including regional powers in the peace process. This observation calls for multiparty mediation, despite all the difficulties associated with “herding cats.”[120]

2. The usefulness of credibility (ties) and capability (military/ economic/ political power) is contingent upon the mediator’s capacity and willingness to use them.

As illustrated by the mediation in Darfur, credibility and capability of the mediator are not per se beneficial. Rather, the political environment, in particular in the domestic sphere, must be such that the mediator is able to exploit these potentials. Specifically state mediators may be guided by their own interests, which can have detrimental effectson the peace process. Since the collective interests of IGOs are less clearly defined, strong national interests of individual member states can in particular lead to collective inaction (depending on the voting procedures).

3. Strongly asymmetrically distributed leverage can undermine the credibility of the mediator

Since Chad had no leverage over Khartoum whatsoever, but was still interested in rapidly terminating the conflict, it chose to adopt a friendly position vis-à-vis the GoS while still exerting pressure on the rebels. This led the rebels to reject Chad as a mediator for being biased, the more so because they had not anticipated Chad to be biased against them.[121]

4. Too strong ties, implying strong mediator interests, can be harmful to mediation.

Mediator interests increase with the mediator’s involvement in the conflict. If the mediator’s stakes in the conflict are too high, because of geographical proximity and refugee flows for instance, this may be harmful to the peace process. As in the case of Chad, the mediator may react by seeking a quick fix.

5. Mediation capacities is a highly relevant factor when choosing a mediator.

It seems that expertise and experience in mediation are somewhat marginalize topics in the mediation literature. Yet, they may be amongst the most crucial factors determining mediation outcome. An explicit mandate can considerably improve the mediation capacities of a third party. In this regard, at least some IGOs have probably advantages over states.


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[1] Mitchell, cited in: Amr (2002)

[2] Crocker et al. (1999), 5.

[3] Böhmelt (2012), 703

[4] Beardsley 2013, Reid 2014.

[5] Reid (2014), 1.

[6] Bercovitch & Gartner (2007).

[7] Bercovitch et al. (1991), 8.

[8] e.g. Kalyvas (2007)

[9] Quinn et al. for instance have pointed out that “less is known about the dynamic and situational aspects of intrastate crisis mediation”, in: Quinn et al. (2013), 2; Svensson has analyzed the particular commitment problems of rebel groups, in: Svensson (2007).

[10] Svensson (2013), 19.

[11] Bercovitch and Houston, for instance, have argued that high-ranking mediators, such as states, “have the ability to exert leverage and influence over the parties and can employ a more diverse range of strategies to influence the chances of a successful outcome”, in: Bercovitch & Houston (1993), 316.

[12] Yin (2013), 40.

[13] George & Bennett (2004), 22.

[14] ibid., 20.

[15] Reid (2014), 8.

[16] Ibid., 9.

[17] Ibid., 11.

[18] for instance: Zartman & Touval (1985)

[19] Reid (2014), 9-11.

[20] Bercovitch & Schneider (2000), 149.

[21] Beardsley (2008), 723.

[22] Zartman & Touval (1985), 40.

[23] Dannemann & Beardsley (2014)

[24] Bercovitch & Gartner (2007) and Bercovitch & Derouen Jr. (2004)

[25] for instance: Bercovitch & Schneider (2000)

[26] Werner & Yuen (2005)

[27] Reid (2014), 11-12.

[28] Beber (2012), 403.

[29] Ibid., 404.

[30] Svensson (2007)

[31] Kydd (2006), 450.

[32] These are some of the advantages attributed to the ‘insider partial mediator type,’ Wehr & Lederach (1991)

[33] Melin et al. (2013), 357.

[34] Beardsley (2008), 728.

[35] Melin et al. (2013), 357.

[36] Quinn et al. (2013), 4.

[37] Aydin (2010), 48.

[38] Boehmer et al. (2004), 14.

[39] Lundgren (2014)

[40] Boehmer et al. (2004), 15.

[41] Melin (2013), 83; Bercovitch & Schneider (2000), 150; Kathman (2012), 991; Elgström et al. (2003), 17.

[42] Gartner (2011), 383.

[43] Boehmer et al. (2004), 10; Dorussen & Ward (2008)

[44] Shannon (2009), 157.

[45] Melin et al (2013), 357.

[46] Kathman (2010), 992.

[47] Quinn et al. (2013), 16.

[48] De Waal (2007a), 4-16.

[49] Tubiana (2007)

[50] Berg (2008)

[51] Mohammed (2007)

[52] Toga (2007)

[53] ICG (2004a), 19.

[54] Giroux et al. (2009), 6.

[55] De Waal (2005), 191.

[56] Dagne (2009), 18.

[57] ICG (2004a), 21.

[58] CIJ (2006), 25.

[59] ICG (2004a), 23.

[60] Toga (2007), 215.

[61] ICG (2004a), 23.

[62] CIJ (2006), 86.

[63] Kagwanja & Mutahi (2007), 6.

[64] The information on the Abuja Peace Talks were drawn from Toga (2007)

[65] Flint (2007), 149.

[66] Marchal (2007), 188.

[67] Ibid., 191.

[68] Flint (2007), 149.

[69] Marchal (2007), 191.

[70] Toga (2007, 235.

[71] ICG (2004a), 21.

[72] Kagwanja & Mutahi (2007), 8.

[73] De Waal (2006).

[74] ICG (2005a), 16.

[75] Until November 2007, 230,000 people fled across the Chadian border, ICG (2007), 17.

[76] ICG (2006b), 10.

[77] Abiodun (2011), 194.

[78] ICG (2004a), 21.

[79] CIJ (2006), 37.

[80] cited in: ICG (2004a).

[81] Keith (2007), 154.

[82] Toga (2007), 238-239.

[83] Ibid., 234.

[84] Ibid.. 234.

[85] CIJ (2006), 33.

[86] Chadian Minister of Public Security and Immigration Aberahmane Mussa to AFP in October 2003, cited in: ibid.

[87] Ibid., 60.

[88] Marchal (2007), 174.

[89] The SLM/A objected against Art. 7 of the ceasefire agreement of Abéché, signed on September 3, 2003, compare: ICG (2004a), 23.

[90] Article 3 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, adopted by the 36th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on July 11, 2000, in Lomé, Togo.

[91] Keith (2007), 154.

[92] UN Security Council Resolution 1706.

[93] Abiodun (2011), 190.

[94] Keith (2007), 155.

[95] De Waal (2006)

[96] cited in: Kagwanja & Mutahi (2007), 5.

[97] Keith (2007), 155.

[98] Netabay (2009).

[99] Toga (2007), 243.

[100] CIJ (2006), 45.

[101] ICG (2004b), 4.

[102] De Waal (2007b), 377.

[103] Netabay (2009)

[104] De Waal (2007b), 377.

[105] ICG (2004b), 6.

[106] De Waal (2007b), 377.

[107] Nathan (2007).

[108] Mottiar & Van Jaarsveld (2009), 11.

[109] Hottinger (2006), 47.

[110] Nathan (2007), 15.

[111] De Waal (2007c), 270.

[112] Nathan (2006).

[113] Toga (2007), 217.

[114] According to Toga, „prior to the resumption of the substantive talks, a consultative meeting was also held between the mediation team and the international partners to develop a strategy to restart the Abuja talks,” in: ibid., 224.

[115] Ibid.

[116] Nathan (2007), 15.

[117] Toga (2007).

[118] Ibid., 232.

[119] Nathan (2007), 15.

[120] Crocker et al. (1999).

[121] In 2002, the SLA and JEM had attempted to obtain Déby’s support for their rebellion, Flint (2007), 149.


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Freie Universität Berlin
2015 (Mai)
Civil war Mediation Conflict resolution

Titel: Leverage of Intergovernmental Organizations and States in African Civil War Mediation