Political mediation

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Political mediation is known in its application in international relations. It presents some differences compared to the mediation of conflicts in the sense that it may have a diplomatic approach, following rather a reconciliation approach between parties in conflict through negotiation, exchange or transaction. But political mediation can also be placed under the framework of a strong pressure, as the military threat by the third party mediator, thus it is an armed mediation...

Practice and Theories

Faced with the definition of mediation, the practice of political mediation is very different. In fact, it is rather a negotiation approach.

Political mediation seems to have been particularly developed during the XIII century. We can distinguish two types:

  • Diplomatic mediation in which the mediator, as a simple ambassador, could easily lose his life and nowadays his job in case of failure; and,
  • Armed mediation in which the outer facilitator, which positions himself as a potential arbitrator, indicates to the parties that he may intervene in a binding manner, even violent if they do not reach an agreement.

In both cases, the political mediator intervenes in situations of crisis, like civil war or wars between states. The principle is therefore relatively old. We can find traces of the principle of political mediation with the intervention of the philosopher Brunetto Latini during a conflict in Italy between Siena and Florence in 1260. The failure of the intervention of the mediator Florentine has led him to be condemned to exile; he settled in France.

However, the most famous political mediation act is certainly the one of Napoleon Bonaparte. Considering he has a moral debt toward Rousseau and for strategic considerations, the future Emperor intervened in the dispute between the united Helvetian and the Federalists. Under threat of armed intervention, the Swiss negotiated among themselves and have reached an agreement. The result is the Mediation Act of 1803 that have established the Confederation of States still existing.

According to Gaston Bouthoul (1896-1980), creator of polemology (war studies) who has published in the collection in "Médiations chez Denoël" a work about factors known as polemologic, political mediation finds its origin since 1945. The positive approach of the war by the author aimed to be an effective alternative to the militant moralism of the pacifist movements. Based on this work which had an international impact, mediation began to emerge and be defined as a conceptualized tool...

In the same time, Alexander Kojeve (1902-1968), philosopher and politician, is a figure of the twentieth century concerning international political mediation. His reflection about power struggles develops the relationships master/slave and promotes the concept of recognition, which is indeed a base of any mediation.


  • Political mediation by Demba Diallo, Ombudsman of Mali
  • Pollitical mediation by Bernard Lamizet, Ed L'Harmattan - 2000
  • The Switzerland of Mediation in Napoleonic Europe (1803-1814): Conference of Freiburg, by Mario Turchetti, Jean Tulard, Lucien Bély, Richard Hocquellet, Publisher: Universitaires De Fribourg - 2005
  • When Napoleon Bonaparte recreated Switzerland: The genesis and implementation of the mediation act; aspects of Franco-Swiss relations around 1803, Alain-Jacques-Crouze Tornare, Publisher Société des Etudes Robespierristes - 2006

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