Disputes, conflicts and wars are the most common and recognized phenomena in relations among countries. In fact, wars and conflicts have been there since the formation of identity frontiers among tribes and human groups. In this sense, wars and conflicts have the very precedence as human history but the attempts at preventing war, particularly in its organized and planned form, have not a long history. We can say that organized measures aimed at reducing disputes among states began since the formation of modern states in the seventeenth century. The happening of two World Wars, formation of the cold war in the twentieth century and also occurrence of many great and small wars in the period, enhanced the necessity for solving conflicts in a peaceful way.
By ending the cold war and reducing ideological disputes at the world level, it was expected that wars and conflicts would be reduced but it seems that increasing disputes and conflicts among or within states have been one of the dominant and evident manifestations of international system after the cold war. Meanwhile, ethnic, racial and religious issues are at the roots of these disputes. In many international experts and analysts' opinion, identity gaps of these kinds are more dangerous, deeper and insoluble than traditional forms of international disputes. Evidently, controlling such fragmentation dynamics within and among states requires better understanding of conflict management mechanisms' sources, strategies and function.
If a state or any other political actor inclines towards preventing or solving a dispute or conflict, there will be various peaceful solutions at its disposal, among them is mediation as a significant and quite effective tool. Therefore, between 1945 and 1992, most of international conflicts have embraced some dimensions of conflict solution management. Meanwhile, mediation and bilateral negotiations are the most applied mechanisms of solving the disputes. Notwithstanding, long mediation has had a long precedence due to anarchic nature of international system and a wide range of actors who have embarked upon engagement or confrontation with each other.
Most of approaches dealing with solving international conflicts pay a special attention to the third parties as significant factor in solving or intensifying conflicts. The considerable point is that mediation attempts by third parties aiming at managing conflicts within and among states have been welcomed by the international community. Basically, international mediation is a process based on two steps. At first step, engaged parties should incline seriously towards ending the hostility through mediation (whether unilateral or bilateral) and carefully consider every sort of the mediator's point of view. The second step concerns the mediator. That is the mediator should prepare himself for every kind of mediatory behavior including passive and active intervention, considering all conditions, tasks and standards ruling its mediation.
In spite of all that, a theoretical and practical problem that raises in regard with international mediation is that there is not much awareness about the relationship between mediation and its results. Some analysts believe that all mediatory efforts have similar dimensions and one cannot reach constructive and universal results through study and exploration of many mediated conflicts. On the contrary, some who are disappointed with the possibility and usefulness of "particularistic approach" in studying mediation, argue that if mediation moves ahead in the direction determined by experts and researches, it can become an effective tool for all cases. On the basis of this universalistic school, effective mediation culminates in changing the communicative and cognitive patterns between two conflicting parties.
According to the main approach provided in this research, neither particularistic and case study nor normative implications of problem-solving approach can be reliable guidelines for assessing efficiency and effectiveness of mediation in the management of international conflicts. The basic argument of this book is that the topic of efficiency should be analyzed within a more objective and empirical framework; a framework in which such elements and constituents as: character of dispute parties, character of mediator(s), nature of mediatory efforts and the disputed topics, should be quite transparent and specified.
On the other hand, mediation is in itself a moral action committed by a state. Therefore, mediation uses this theory that there are a series of global ethics in international relations and world politics that should be respected. Mediation, apparently, takes place independent of explicit power balance. It is a humanitarian measure following another logic in order to reduce the sufferings arising from explicit power application. The independent sphere of mediation is logically proved through considering the fact that the pre-mediation stages are anger, violence and, humiliation, while mediation is based on persuasion, argumentation and necessity for friendship and peaceful coexistence. Mediation takes distance from its preceding situation in a qualified and fundamental way.
But at the same time, mediation by a state is the main measure adopted by that state in its own national interest. Because, in fact, the mediator state tries to reduce tension in its surroundings and directs the peace towards itself and links the peace to its own interests. At the same time that a regional power deals with mediation, the measure may also culminate in enhancing the regional power of the state. But this power is a soft one; that is the power of persuasion, reliability, legitimacy and negotiability and so on. In this direction, mediation may culminate in spreading a national culture at the regional level through increasing the cases of mediation.
Through mediation, the mediator state proves that it is not the captive of ideological and subjective conceptions, rather it can think about real and useful affairs, because mediation is basically inclined towards fine, graceful, useful and concrete solutions, so there is no space for general conceptions and subjective preferences. Principally, agreement and compromise result from a process in which only details and limited matters are dealt with. Experience has demonstrated that whenever scientific and non-subjective matters have been raised, compromise has been reached.
A state cannot access to mediator status according to its own willing. In fact, the mediation status is accorded to a state and cannot be obtained. Mediation is a status and advantage which is granted to a state by two or several states in the region that have considered it a competent and acceptable one. So mediation is a mirror for a state's virtues and achievements, and in the next step, it enhances existing virtues and achievements in turn. Therefore, the increase of mediations in a state's record acts as its document of success in foreign policy is an evidence for the fact that the state enjoys the capacity and liability to use dialog and mutual understanding in order to solve disputes or reduce regional tensions among engaged parties. Of course, mediation is the evidence of a state's acceptability and authority and does not signify having the superpower's status or its wealth. A mediator state's tools for success are its legitimacy and reliability. In the next instance, wealth and power may place various mediation tools at the state's disposal.
Mediation can be affirmed by world powers or not. In the first case, the mediator state only plays a role within the framework of global-regional equations and in terms of importance, it conducts a second rank behavior but if world powers remain silent, do not affirm or reprimand the mediation, it is an evidence for the creativity of the diplomatic apparatus. Such measures may confront some resistances but at the same time, they increase the credibility of diplomacy in foreign policy doctrine of other regional states and may become the stock for the upcoming opportunities. Therefore, mediation is a kind of sustainable investment for the future foreign policy of a state and it can enhance subjective reserves of a state (in terms of perceptions or understandings by regional states).
Any state in a region can try to be a mediator but "effective" mediation is done by those states that are regional actors but mechanical or instrumental power is considered a second rank factor. Wealth is also a subordinate factor. In other words, it can be said that those states can engage in with mediation that are known to be soft powers in the minds of regional states. Weak states adopt a negative attitude towards the countries with hard power and do not accept their judgment. Also, their attitude towards the rich states is often instrumental and provisional.
Therefore, the successful mediation by a state demonstrates and proves that the state enjoys the capacity for advancing practical, executive and specific problems in disputes and conflicts between the two countries, beside the commitment to macro values and ideological and national goals to which every state is committed. This two dimensional character can be regarded as a reason for intellectual evolution of state institution in a country. Mediation is a confirmation of the acceptability of a state at the regional level. Times and numbers of the mediation of a state in its region can be regarded as a criterion for assessing its legitimacy and credibility in the region.
The aim of this research is to explore the backgrounds, conditions and factors within which mediation is applied as an attractive and successful tool for managing international conflicts by states as well as regional and international organizations. The important point is that every kind of expectation and success from mediatory efforts can display relative achievements gained from conflict management techniques as a weak or exaggerating measure. If we do not know that a considerable part of disputes can hardly be mediated, then we will do not pay enough attention to conflict management. Also, there will be exaggerating views, if we do not have necessary awareness about the possibility of solving some international disputes.
One of the most important aims of this book is to express details and complexities of mediation and separate this mechanism from other tools of peaceful solution for disputes. I want to emphasize on this point that mediated conflicts are not random instances different from other conflicts, in spite of the diversity and variety they display in terms of principles of formation and manifestation.
This research has been organized in an introduction and five chapters.
The first chapter under the title "concepts and nature of international disputes and conflicts" deals with different dimensions of international disputes consisting tension, rivalry, dispute, conflict and crisis, and also provides a comparative approach to their fundamentals and basics. It also embarks upon recognizing and exploring the nature of international disputes in terms of being legal or political. After the genealogy of the quality of formation peaceful ways for solving international disputes in a terminological framework, the author embarks upon providing a definition of the concept "peaceful solution of disputes". On the basis of existing argumentation in this chapter, the trends applied in solving these disputes cannot follow a unitary pattern due to the variety of the nature of international disputes and their constituting elements.
The second chapter studies exploration of "methods" and "tools" of peaceful solution of international disputes. Since these methods and tools are subject to such factors as: aims and purposes of engaged parties in international disputes, scope, depth and legal or political nature of these disputes, the chapter focuses on recognizing mentioned methods on the one hand and the quality of using existing tools on the other. In the author's opinion, different international disputes can be managed in three ways as follows: political and diplomatic way, legal-judicial way, and using regional and international organizations. In the second chapter, the author has tried to assess the quality of applying peaceful solution ways for international disputes other than mediation (which is discussed in the upcoming chapters). The author attempts to establish a relationship between the different tools of peaceful solutions for conflicts. These tools are negotiation, reconciliation, research (diplomatic political method), judgment, International Court of Justice.
Aimed at exploring the theoretical and conceptual dimensions of mediation, the third chapter tries to display an informative image of mediation concept as one of the most important tools of peaceful solution for international disputes through expressing main features, variables and constituents which are determining in mediation. In fact, it is through scrutinizing and precise exploration of these features and constituents that mediation obtains a different identity from other peaceful solution tools such as: good offices, reconciliation, research, judgment and so on. On the basis of the author's view, although we cannot comply a comprehensive theory about conflict management due to different and sometimes contending elements and variables which are determining in shaping international disputes and conflicts, but we should not regard these disputes as random and separate phenomena.
In the fourth chapter, the focus is on recognizing and determining the methods applied in mediation by individuals, states and regional and international organizations besides their tasks and resources at their disposal. In this regard, although there are various actors with widespread behavioral scopes in mediation process, a model can be created by determining common rules which involve usable methods by different mediators. Based on this view, some mediatory behaviors and measures can be categorized in three strategies: communication, formulation and processing. In the author's view, choosing each of the above mentioned strategies is subject to the conditions of conflict or dispute. At the end, the author tries to provide some criteria for assessing an effective mediator through introducing subjective and objective standards.
The fifth chapter under the title "mediation by Islamic state: basics and fundamentals" tries to recognize and analyze the theoretical and legal foundations of mediation by the Islamic state, meanwhile it tries to explain Islamic approach to the categories of peace, mediation and the tasks of the Islamic state in this regard. The author in the sixth chapter under the title "mediation by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the two conflicts of Karabakh and Tajikistan" tries to briefly analyze and explore the mediation measures adopted by the Islamic Republic of Iran in relation to these two disputes, emphasizing theoretical and practical preliminaries expressed about mediation and also exploring backgrounds of crisis in these two disputes. Since the author himself has participated actively and continuously in these two disputes as the representative and mediator, his personal experience and findings have been mentioned in this chapter. Given that the author tries to publish the second volume of this book about mediation by the Islamic Republic of Iran in two cases of Karabakh and Tajikistan, in this chapter he has tried to point out briefly to the experience of the Islamic Republic of Iran besides some theoretical investigations about the mediation issue.