- We understand mediation as a structured communication process, in which an impartial third party works with conflict parties to find commonly agreeable solutions to their dispute, in a way that satisfies their interests at stake. Mediation is confidential and voluntary, and the mediator does not have any decision-making power over how to resolve the conflict.
- We understand dialogue as a more open-ended communication process between conflict parties in order to foster mutual understanding, recognition, empathy and trust. These can be one-off conversations, or go on over a longer period of time. Although dialogues can lead to very concrete decisions and actions, the primary aim is not to reach a specific settlement, but to gain a better understanding of different perspectives involved in a conflict. This may or may not be facilitated by a third party.
- Peace process
- We understand a peace process to be the sum of all non-military efforts, formal and informal, short- and long-term, to put a lasting end to armed violence between two or more parties. In this understanding, peace agreements constitute only one milestone in this wider process, albeit an important one, as they chart out the future path of a peace process.
- Peace mediation
- We understand ‘peace mediation’ as mediation efforts carried out in the context of peace processes, be that before, during, or after armed conflict. Peace mediation is done by local, national as well international actors - ideally in ways that complement each other and strengthen overall chances of success.
- Mediation support
- We understand this to include a number of accompanying measures that aim to strengthen a mediation effort. This can include training and coaching for conflict parties and mediators; providing logistical support; carrying out conflict analyses; generating interest profiles for conflict parties; support to mediation process design and strategy development; and lesson-learning from mediation efforts.
The terms “mediation” and “dialogue” are often used to mean different things; or in fact interchangeably. In our work, we use them, and a number of other terms, to mean the following: