Mediation 2017-05-06T12:35:03+00:00

Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 5th ed.  –  Online updating pages

Chapter 17: Mediation

p. 252, Box 17.1, good offices: An important, relatively recent example of this form of third party diplomacy is provided by the role of the government of Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman in facilitating the secret bilaterals between the US and Iran in Oman (‘the Omani channel’), which contributed so decisively to the breakthrough in the nuclear negotiations on 24 November 2013 (the Joint Plan of Action). See Clinton and Rozen refs. In Further reading below.

p. 254, bullet at bottom of page: To the major powers long interested in mediating Middle East conflicts for chiefly economic reasons must now be added China, which in March 2017 offered to mediate in talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran (see House of Lords … , p. 41, Further reading below).

p. 255, bullet at top of page: Russia’s role in the so-called Astana process is a good current example of mediation chiefly for this reason (House of Lords …, pp. 37-9, Further reading below; and my short blog on this).

p. 255, Vatican mediation: An important development here is the role played by the Vatican (chiefly, it seems, one of good offices) in the great improvement in relations between the United States and Cuba that was publicly revealed towards the end of 2014; see Further reading. Until this development, there was little evidence of significant Vatican mediation apart from its role in the settlement of the Beagle Channel dispute between Chile and Argentina, which I had got rather tired of mentioning and so dropped from this edition. However, Pope Francis has shown a great and welcome zest for this sort of activity. The Cuban-American conflict, now hopefully put to rest, is not the only one in which he has taken a hand.

pp. 257-8: Track two. It is not surprising that Jimmy Carter became a prominent member of The Elders, a group formed by Nelson Mandela in 2007 following an initiative by entrepreneur Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel. It consists chiefly of other sometime presidents and prime ministers with a record of successful mediation while in office but at the time of writing (April 2016) also includes previously UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the highly respected former Algerian foreign minister and UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (see The Elders in Further reading below).

p. 258, multiparty mediation: it will be instructive to observe the evolution of the various attempts to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the tension in whose relationship escalated dangerously in early January 2016. There are press reports that Pakistan, Iraq, Russia, Turkey, and Oman have all offered to mediate in their dispute (see Further reading below).

Further reading: additions and links

  •  Ahmad, Naveed, ‘How can Pakistan be an effective mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran[?]’, The Express Tribune, 19 January 2016
  • Cafiero, Giorgio, ‘Oman, stuck between Saudi Arabia and Iran’, Al-Monitor, 10 January, 2016
  • Chmaytelli, Maher, ‘Iraq offers to mediate between Saudi and Iran, fearing for ISIS campaign’,  Reuters, 6 January 2016
  • Clinton, Hillary Rodham, Hard Choices (Simon and Schuster, 2014), index refs. ‘Oman, and Iran’.
  • Dergham, Raghida, ‘Prospects for mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran?’11 January 2016, Al Arabiya News
  • The Elders [official website]
  • House of Lords Select Committee on International Relations, ‘The Middle East: Time for new realism’, HL Paper 159, 2 May 2017
  • ‘Renewed US-Cuba relations biggest success in Vatican diplomacy in decades’, Guardian 17 December 2014
  • Rozen L., ‘Three days in March: New details on how US, Iran opened direct talks’, Al-Monitor, 8 January 2014
  • ‘Syrian peace talks in Astana close with no sign of rebels’, Reuters, 15 March 2017
  • ‘US-Cuba deal offers reminder of Vatican’s diplomatic influence’, Guardian 20 December 2014