The role of norms in international peace mediation

By Sara Hellmüller, Julia Palmiano Federer and Mathias Zeller

This report analyzes norms in international peace mediation, based on in-depth interviews with 22 mediators and mediation experts, and attempts to provide some orientation for mediators on how to manage them. The report assesses three main questions. First, it looks at the connection between normative frameworks and mediation processes, and how it has changed over the past 25 years. Second, it examines the often implicit prioritization of norms. Third, it analyzes the role of the mediators in dealing with different norms influencing mediation practice. The report finds that the normative framework in mediation has grown, making mediation considerably more complex. Based on the interview findings, the report offers some ideas of how mediators could address this framework more systematically through the categorization and explicit prioritization of norms. It sheds light on how different norms are prioritized through sequencing, and moves the discussion from a focus on dilemmas towards one of challenges that can be managed. Given the complexity of mediation processes today, views on categorization and prioritization can vary greatly between different actors involved in a mediation process. The report therefore sheds light on the perceptions surrounding the role of the mediator in the promotion of norms. In conclusion, it argues for a more explicit approach to norms in mediation in order to move peace processes forward most effectively.

The report is a joint swisspeace - NOREF publication