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Reconciling the Rift: International Mediation and Identity

CLOWRY, SARAH,ANGHARAD,MAIR (2021) Reconciling the Rift: International Mediation and Identity. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 04 July 2023.


This thesis interrogates whether, and if so how, international mediation might shape the identities of the conflict parties. Proceeding from the position that identities are socially constructed, I examine two contemporary instances of mediation: stages I and II of the Geneva Peace Process, the early United Nations (UN)-led efforts in relation to the Syrian civil war; and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and UN-sponsored National Dialogue Conference (NDC), the initial phases of the peace process launched to resolve the Yemeni crisis. I investigate these cases by gathering and thematically analysing an original qualitative dataset comprising 74 semi-structured interviews, 50 press conferences and 110 official documents.

In essence, I argue that mediators and conflict parties, in partnership or in opposition, can reimagine the identities of the conflict parties within, and in response to, mediation. Mediation can operate as an arena in which identities are reconstructed while the very occurrence of mediation can trigger and fuel processes of identity reconstruction. Furthermore, the practice of mediation, and in particular the norms promoted through and contained within it, can serve to reconstruct identities.

My analysis variously reinforces, enriches and challenges the limited cohort of studies which has begun to consider the possible influence of mediation upon identity. Secondly, I contribute to our understanding of how identities in Syria and Yemen were transformed following the uprisings of 2011. Thirdly, I intervene in two intertwined debates within mediation studies: those surrounding impartiality and power. I demonstrate that examining processes of identity construction may strengthen our understanding of whether a mediator is viewed as being impartial. Moreover, and relatedly, I show how identity construction can be employed, by mediators, to convince and corral conflict parties, and to guide them towards particular solutions. Finally, by proving that mediation can intercede in processes of identity mutation, I demand a reassessment of our very understanding of third-party peacemaking: its purpose and effects.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Mediation; Identity; Syria; Yemen
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Sep 2021 08:35

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