TRAINING SPOTLIGHT: Negotiation and Mediation Skills in International Crisis Management Missions


Numerous elements and skills of negotiation and mediation are commonly present in virtually every component of international crisis management. Whereas negotiating skills provide efficient means to achieve the desired resolution on particular issues, mediation skills aid in facilitating a platform to prevent, manage or resolve a conflict between parties willing to partake in mediation. From political coordination and strategic planning to tactical and field operations of mission staff, negotiation and mediation skills are utilised when defining crisis management mission mandates as well as individual tasks and responsibilities of mission staff.

At the very inception of crisis management missions, negotiations between parties in international organisation bodies result in an agreement to deploy the mission. Moreover, once deployed, mission staff operate in a complex environment in which a multitude of autonomous political actors, international donor agencies, security bodies and other stakeholders pursues their own interests. Thus, deployed experts must firstly be able to identify their own affiliations in order to contextualise their base negotiating position, which is frequently based on particular relationships where all interests are not necessarily aligned.

The international community and especially international organisations like the United Nations or European Union, which most commonly define mission mandates and set their priorities, commonly occupy mediatory and coordinator roles. In this regard deployed staff must be prepared to offer support to fulfilling mediatory roles of international organisations.

Despite commitments towards promoting local ownership of mission capacities, mission mandates and priorities set in New York or Brussels are not always completely synchronised with local priorities. In this regard, mission staff can find themselves in a position where they are required to negotiate and steer all relevant parties towards a mutually acceptable approach.

Finally, international crisis management missions are composed of staff from different nationalities, representing a variety of national interests and cultures, which predominantly include circumstances where all these diverging factors must be consolidated in order to efficiently deal with day-to-day mission tasks.

Generally speaking, international crisis management missions operate in the context of previously and continuously negotiated as well as mediated foundations. Thus, utilisation of negotiation and mediation skills is expected by experts on a regular basis. Hence, the competencies provided by the training on Negotiation and Mediation Skills in International Crisis Management Missions are complementary to mission success for all staff from individual trainers, mentors or observers to senior mission leadership.