‘The way to change the game is to change the frame’ – William Ury (Director of the Global Negotiation Project at Harvard University).
‘Appreciate their point of view. Understand it. It is very important to appreciate the way they see it. Even if you don’t agree, say that it merits serious consideration. Don’t say that they are wrong. Appreciate their self-esteem. Acknowledge that the other person has been heard. Be prepared to argue their case better than they can before you answer it.’
The late Professor Roger Fisher in a two hour conversation with Carl Islam at Harvard Law School during a research visit as a Scholar from King’s College London to Harvard University in April 2002.
‘In the heat of a dispute it is easy for scholars and statesmen alike to forget that, though life can only be understood backwards, it must be lived forwards.’ (‘Sending Them Home – Some Observations on the Relocation of Cultural Objects from UK Museum Collections’ by the late Professor Norman Palmer, Art Antiquity And Law, Vol 5, Issue 4, December 2000, page 353).
This page is both a blog and a collation of useful links for research about transforming conflict through a process of Humanitarian Mediation.
I also have an academic research interest in, ‘Transforming Conflict Through Humanitarian Mediation and Cultural Heritage Diplomacy.’
- News & Reports.
- Humanitarian & Transformative Mediation Resources.
- Mediation of Peace Process and Agreement Resources.
- Research Bibliography.
- Draft Article [Work in progress] – ‘Transforming Conflict Through Humanitarian Mediation & Cultural Heritage Diplomacy.’
- Blogs (scroll down to find the full text of each blog listed below).
– ‘Empedocles’ Sphere.’
– ‘Coalitions of the weak.’
– ‘Analysing the causes of armed conflict.’
– ’10th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation– Share a vision of co-existence.’ Explore and find common ground by engaging in a mediated diplomatic conversation about the existence and relevance of Fiduciary principles of international relations which transcend regional balance of power politics, e.g. rules and norms of International Humanitarian Law.
– ‘9th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Calculate the political price of doing a deal.’
– ‘Time to mediate?’
– ‘8th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Analyse the underlying dynamics.’
– ‘7th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Legitimacy.’
– ‘6th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation– Analyse the existence of pillars to support a political and strategic framework for managing the relationship between the states who are in direct conflict with each other.’
– ‘5th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Do not make things worse.’
– ‘4th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Realism.’
– ‘3nd Principle of Humanitarian Mediation- Exploratory talks to discover elements of a bespoke process.’
– ‘2nd Principle of Humanitarian Mediation- Choice of Mediator.’
– ‘1st Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Diplomats must have room to manoeuvre.’
– ‘Engineering convergence through Mediation – Can we put the Genie back into the bottle?’
– ‘Ukraine – Who can Mediate?’
– ‘Universality of values: Cultural dimension of geopolitical competition – Conference Talks 14.1.2022 organised by the European External Action Service.’
News & Reports
- Asia Society
- Brookings – Quality. Independence. Impact.Browse RAND Reports by Topic | RAND
- Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank
- Foreign Policy – the Global Magazine of News and Ideas
- Geopolitical News Analysis and Forecasting | Geopolitical Monitor
- Global Security Review | Geopolitical Analysis & Commentary
- Homepage | Royal United Services Institute (rusi.org)
- Politics, Policy, Political News – POLITICO
- An EU-Russia Modus Vivendi in the East? – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (carnegiemoscow.org)
- After six months of bloody and terrible war, what exactly does Putin want from Ukraine? | Philip Short | The Guardian
- Behind the global ceasefire call: 75 years of UN mediation, preventing conflict, promoting peace | | UN News
- Brief: Why Iran Is Interested in Mediation – Geopolitical Futures
- CA_China_Oekraine.pdf (clingendael.org)
- Myths and misconceptions around Russian military intent (chathamhouse.org)
- Conflict Mediation: Turkey, and Israel as Mediators in the Russian-Ukraine War – Modern Diplomacy
- Conflict Prevention, Peace building and Mediation | EEAS Website (europa.eu)
- EU peace mediation in the 2020s: From intervention to investment (fiia.fi)
- Exporting peace? The EU mediator’s normative backpack | European Law Open | Cambridge Core
- Four Myths about Russian Grand Strategy | Center for Strategic and International Studies (csis.org)
- Germany seeks mediating role as Ukraine tensions rise | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 24.01.2022
- Is Peace Mediation in Ukraine Possible, and How? | Conciliation Resources (c-r.org)
- Mediation in political conflicts – Soft power or counter culture? – ACCORD
- Peace Begins with Mediation – Mediating the Russia-Ukraine conflict | Oxford Law Faculty
- Resilience and decoupling in the era of great power competition | Merics
- The Russification of National Minorities – Imperial Russia – Government and people – National 5 History Revision – BBC Bitesize
- To Decouple or Not to Decouple? | Asia Society
- The most dangerous place on earth – POLITICO
- The United States Must Prepare for War With Both Russia and China (foreignpolicy.com)
- The new ‘Concept on EU Peace Mediation’: boosting EU capacities in crisis response and conflict resolution? (idos-research.de)
- Turkiye ‘most successful’ country in conflict mediation: Ukraine (aa.com.tr)
- Turkey leads pack of countries vying to mediate between Ukraine and Russia | Turkey | The Guardian
- The Reshaping of UAE Foreign Policy and Geopolitical Strategy – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- The Situation in Ukraine – What Role for Mediation? — Civil Mediation
- The War in Ukraine: Lessons for Mediators – Mediate.com
- What Would China’s Mediation in the Ukraine Crisis Look Like? – The Diplomat
- What does Putin Want?: Assessing Interests in the Invasion of Ukraine « Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program
Humanitarian & Transformative Mediation Resources
- Beyond restorative justice-4.pdf (centreformediationafrica.org)
- Could Transformative Models Of Mediation And Restorative Justice Have Made A Difference? – Mediate.com
- Ethics of Humanitarian Negotiations and Mediation – Peace Research Institute Oslo (prio.org)
- European Institute of Peace (eip.org)
- European University Institute (eui.eu)
- First Online Humanitarian Mediation Training | Clingendael
- | (norwich.edu) How Mediation Works in International Conflicts
- Humanitarian Negotiation and International Mediation: Building Bridges | General Assembly of the United Nations
- Mediation in International Conflicts – International Relations – Oxford Bibliographies
- Mediation and Conflict Transformation (ethz.ch)
- Peacemaking and Transformative Mediation: Sulha Practices in Palestine and the Middle East | Request PDF (researchgate.net)
- Peacemaking in a shifting world order: A macro-level analysis of UN mediation in Syria | Review of International Studies | Cambridge Core
- Prospects and problems of implementing a restorative justice in Ukraine (mediats-chnu.com)
- Protecting civilians through humanitarian mediation | Humanitarian Practice Network (odihpn.org)
- RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AS A TOOL FOR PEACEBUILDING: A SOUTH AFRICAN STUDY – PhD Chapter 1: Sarah Henkeman 11/5/09 (ukzn.ac.za)
- Reconciliation through Restorative Justice: Analyzing South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Process | Beyond Intractability
- Swiss Peace – evaluating peace negotiations.pdf (oecd.org)
- Transformative Mediation | Beyond Intractability
- Guide to humanitarian interpreting & cultural mediation (translatorswithoutborders.org)
- Mediation and Restorative Justice (moj.gov.jm)
- Mediation for Peace: The-Centre-for-Humanitarian-Dialogue-in-2019.pdf (hdcentre.org)
- Tackling the causes of conflict through mediation | NRC:
- The role of the international community: https://www.icj-cij.org/en/case/182
- The Differences and Similarities of Restorative Justice and Mediation — Pathways to Restorative Communities (pathways2rc.com)
- The War in Ukraine: Lessons for Mediators – Mediate.com
- Transformative Mediation: A Self-Assessment (psu.edu)
- Transformative Approaches to Conflict Resolution – The Commons (commonslibrary.org)
- UNESCO’s military manual of 2016: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000246633
- What is Restorative Justice? — Why Me? Restorative Justice (why-me.org)
Mediation of Peace Process and Agreement Resources
- Background | Peace Mediation Platform
- Basics of Mediation.pdf (un.org)
- Centre for Geopolitics | Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems. (cam.ac.uk)
- Conflict Prevention, Peace building and Mediation | EEAS Website (europa.eu)
- EUROPEAN EXTERNAL ACTION SERVICE (europa.eu)
- Foreign Affairs Magazine
- How Can Peace Agreements Be Implemented and Lasting? – Conflict Resolution Unit
- Homepage | Culture in Crisis
- Implications of the Ukraine invasion for the Integrated Review examined – Committees – UK Parliament
- Home | Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution (gmu.edu)
- Mediation Library | UN Peacemaker
- Mediation and Peace Processes (un.org)
- Mediation and Peacebuilding | United States Institute of Peace (usip.org)
- Middle Eastern and Eurasian Orders | Centre for Geopolitics (cam.ac.uk)
- Offensive realism – Wikipedia
- Peace Mediation Framework (auswaertiges-amt.de)
- PEACE AGREEMENT/PEACE IMPLEMENTATION (un.org)
- Political Institutions and Political Stability | SpringerLink
- Swiss Peace – evaluating peace negotiations.pdf (oecd.org): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13439006.2015.1038888?journalCode=capr20
- The effectiveness of mediation and peacekeeping for ending conflict – Govinda Clayton, Han Dorussen, 2022 (sagepub.com)
- The evolution of offensive realism | Politics and the Life Sciences | Cambridge Core
- The End of Strategic Patience (thestrategybridge.org)
Allison, Graham (2018) Destined for War: can America and China escape Thucydides’ Trap?, Scribe UK.
Aust, Anthony (2013) Modern Treaty Law and Practice, Third Edition, Cambridge University Press.
Bell, Christine (2008) On The Law Of Peace, Oxford University Press.
Besson, Samantha & John Tasioulas (2013) The Philosophy of International Law, Oxford University Press.
Bowen, Jeremy (2022) The Making of the Modern Middle East: A Personal History, Picador.
Carstens, Anne-Marie & Elizabeth Varner (2020), Intersections In International Cultural Heritage Law, Oxford University Press.
Carter, Jennifer (2022). Human Rights Museums: Critical Tensions Between Memory and Justice. Routledge.
Carty, Anthony (2017) Philosophy of International Law, Second Edition, Edinburgh University Press.
Chechi, Allesandro (2014) The Settlement Of International Cultural Heritage Disputes, Oxford University Press.
Clark, Christopher (2013) The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, Penguin.
Cloke, Kenneth (2019) The Crossroads of Conflict – A Journey Into the Heart of Dispute Resolution, Goodmedig Press.
Criddle, Evan J. & Evan Fox-Decent (2016) Fiduciaries of Humanity – How International Law Constitutes Authority, Oxford University Press.
Criddle, J., Evan Fox-Decent, Andrew S. Gold, Sung Hui Kim & Paul B.Miller (2018), Fiduciary Government, Cambridge University Press.
Crisp, Roger (2015) The Oxford Handbook of The History Of Ethics, Oxford University Press.
de Chazournes, Laurence Boisson, Marcello G. Kohen & Jorge E. Vinuales (2013) Diplomatic and Judicial Means of Dispute Settlement, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
de Mesquita, Bruce Bueno (1981), The War Trap, Yale University Press.
Denza, Eileen (2018) Diplomatic Law – Commentary on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Oxford University Press.
Djefal, Christian (2016) Static and Evolutive Treaty Interpretation, Cambridge University Press.
Drazewska, Berenika (2021) Military Necessity in International Cultural Heritage Law, Brill Nijhoff.
Clack, Timothy & Mark Dunkley (2022) Cultural Heritage in Modern Conflict, Past, Propaganda, Parade, Routledge.
Duke, Annie (2018) Thinking in Bets, Portfolio Penguin.
Failat, Yanal Abul (2022) Outer Space Law: Legal Policy and Practice 2nd ed, Globe Law and Business.
Fisher, Roger, Elizabeth Kopelman & Andrea Kuper Schneider (1994) Beyond Machiavelli – Tools For Coping With Conflict, Penguin Books.
Fisher, Roger & Daniel Shapiro (2007) Building Agreement – Using Emotions As You Negotiate, RH Business Books.
Fox-Decent, Evan (2011) Sovereignty’s Promise – The State as Fiduciary, Oxford University Press.
Freedman, Sir Lawrence (2013) Strategy – A History, Oxford University Press.
Freedman, Sir Lawrence (2022) Command: The Politics of Military Operations from Korea to Ukraine, Allen Lane.
Gardiner, Richard (2015) Treaty Interpretation, Oxford University Press.
Goold, Benjamin J. & Liora Lazarus (2019) Security And Human Rights, Hart Publishing.
Gozzi, Gustavo (2019) Rights and Civilizations – A History and Philosophy of International Law, Cambridge University Press.
Hollis, Duncan B. (2012) The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford University Press.
Iverson, Jens (2021) Jus Post Bellum: The Rediscovery, Foundations, and Future of the Law of Transforming War into Peace, Brill Nijhoff.
Jervis, Robert (1976) Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Princeton University Press.
Jervis, Robert (2017) How Statesmen Think – The Psychology of International Politics, Princeton University Press.
Kahneman, Daniel (2011) Thinking Fast And Slow, Allen Lane.
Kennan, George.F (2012) American Diplomacy, The University of Chicago Press.
Kim, Jihon (2022) Non-State Actors in the Protection of Cultural Heritage: An Analysis on Their Rights, Obligations, and Roles, Springer-Verlag.
Kissinger, Henry (1957), (2013 update) A World Restored – Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-22, Echo Point Books & Media LLC.
Kissinger, Henry (2022) Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy, Allen Lane.
Kolb, Robert (2016) Theory of International Law, Bloomsbury.
Kolb, Robert (2017) The Law Of Treaties, Edward Elgar.
Koopmans, Sven M.G. (2008) Diplomatic Dispute Settlement – The Use of Inter-State Conciliation, T.M.C Asser Press.
Koopmans, Sven M.G. (2018) Negotiating Peace – A Guide To The Practice, Politics, And Law Of international Mediation, Oxford University Press.
Lafollette, Hugh (2010) The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, Oxford University Press.
Levinger, Matthew (2013) Conflict Analysis – Understanding Causes, Unlocking Solutions, United States Institute of Peace.
Mackinder, Sir Halford (2020) The Geographical Pivot of History, Cosimo Classics.
Malhotra, Deepak & Max H. Bazerman (2008) Negotiation Genius, Harvard Business School, Bantam Books.
Malhotra, Deepak (2016) Negotiating The Impossible – How To Break Deadlocks And Resolve Ugly Conflcts (Without Money or Muscle), Harvard Business School, Berrett-Kohler Publishers, Inc.
Martin, Mike (2018) Why We Fight, C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd.
Mearsheimer, John J. (2014) The Tragedy Of Great Power Politics (Updated Edition), Norton.
Meyer, Thomas, Jose de Sales Marques & Marion Telo (2021) Towards a New Multilateralism – Cultural Divergence and Political Convergence?, Routledge.
Milton, Patrick, Michael Axworthy and Brendan Simms (2018) Towards A Westphalia for the Middle East, C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd.
Osthagen, Andreas (2022) Ocean Geopolitics: Marine Resources, Maritime Boundary Disputes and the Law of the Sea, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.
Ormand, David (2020) How Spies Think – Ten Lessons in Intelligence, Penguin Viking.
Peak, Thomas (2021) Westphalia From Below: Humanitarian Intervention and the Myth of 1648, C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd.
Pirie, Fernanda (2021), The Rule of Laws: A 4000-year Quest to Order the World, Profile Books.
Powell, Jonathan (2014), Talking To Terrorists – How to end armed conflicts, Vintage.
Ramsbotham, Oliver, Tom Woodhouse & Hugh Miall (2021) Contemporary Conflict Resolution, Fourth Edition, Polity.
Randolph, Paul (2016) The Psychology of Conflict, Bloomsbury.
Reus-Smit, Christian & Duncan Snidal (2008) The Oxford Handbook of International Relations, Oxford University Press.
Richmond, Oliver P. (2022) The Grand Design: The Evolution of the International Peace Architecture, Oxford University Press USA.
Roberts, Sir Ivor (2018) Satow’s Diplomatic Practice, Seventh Edition, Oxford University Press.
Rudd, Kevin (2022) The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping’s China, Public Affairs.
Saul, Ben & Dapo Akande (2020) The Oxford Guide To International Humanitarian Law, Oxford University Press.
Shafer-Landau, Russ (2013) Ethical Theory – An Anthology, Wiley-Blackwell.
Shapiro, Daniel (2017) Negotiating the Non-negotiable, Penguin Books.
Shirk, Susan L (2022) Overreach: How China Derailed Its Peaceful Rise, OUP USA.
Simms, Brendan and D.J.B Trim 2011) Humanitarian Intervention, Cambridge University Press.
Singer, Peter (1993) A Companion To Ethics, Blackwell Publishing.
Smith, Retired General Sir Rupert (2005) The Utility of Force – The Art of War in the Modern World, Penguin Books.
Stewart, Rory & Gerald Knaus (2012) Can Intervention Work?, W.W. Norton & Company.
Stone, Douglas, Bruce Patton & Sheila Heen (2000) Difficult Conversations, Penguin Books.
Strasser, Freddie & Paul Randolph (2004), Mediation – A Psychological Insight into Conflict Resolution, Contunuum.
Tams, Christian J. & Antonios Tzanakopoulos (2012), Basic Documents on The Settlement Of International Disputes, Hart Publishing.
Thouless R.H. & C.R. Thouless (1930) Straight & Crooked Thinking, Hodder Education.
Ury, William (1993) Getting Past No – Negotiating In Difficult Situations, Bantam Books.
Voss, Chris with Tahl Raz (2016) Never Split The Difference – Negotiating as if your life depended on it, RH Business Books.
Walker, Stephen (2021) Mediation Behaviour – Why We Act Like We do, Bloomsbury Professional.
Zwier, Paul.J. (2013) Principled Negotiation And mediation In The International Arena, Cambridge University Press.
DRAFT ARTICLE [Work in progress] – ‘Transforming Conflict Through Humanitarian Mediation & Cultural Heritage Diplomacy.’
- The nexus between International Humanitarian Law (‘IHL’) and classical fiduciary theory.
- The limits of war under International Humanitarian Law.
- Fiduciary Principles of International Relations.
- Are fiduciary principles and norms underlying IHL a tool in the negotiation of a peace process and agreement?
- Universal ‘ethical’ values under IHL.
- Principles & Norms of IHL in relation to Cultural Heritage.
- Thinking strategically about the protection of cultural heritage during war.
The twin themes examined in this article are:
- What humanitarian tools have been applied is mediating a peace process and agreement in conflicts from antiquity to the present day?
- What lessons and principles of Humanitarian Mediation can be drawn from history?
The nexus between International Humanitarian Law (‘IHL’) and classical fiduciary theory
Cultural Heritage is entwined with UNESCO’s broader mandate concerning human rights, the rule of law, development, and peace.
The intentional destruction of cultural heritage is an offence against humanity as a whole. Article II.2 of the 2003 UNESCO Declaration concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage (17 October 2003) states:
‘For the purposes of this Declaration “intentional destruction” means an act intended to destroy in whole or in part cultural heritage, thus compromising its integrity, in a manner which constitutes a violation of international law or an unjustifiable offence to the principles of humanity and dictates of public conscience, in the latter case in so far as such acts are not already governed by fundamental principles of international law.’
In other words, the intentional destruction of cultural heritage is an unjustifiable offence to the principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience.
While there are no rules establishing any particular consequences, the International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia emphasised in Prosecutor v. Jokić Case IT-01-42/1-S (Judgment) Trial Chamber (18 March 2004), paragraph 46, that in the interests of humanity as a whole:
‘since it is a serious violation of international humanitarian law to attack civilian buildings, it is a crime of even greater seriousness to direct an attack on an especially protected site’.
Therefore, this may be considered as an aggravating factor in determining the length of any sentence in the prosecution of perpetrators.
‘The cultural heritage of a people is not limited to the tangible expressions of art, architecture, religion, poetry, or writing in general but also includes its intangible heritage, which is transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity. More generally, cultural heritage includes the expressions of the people’s spirituality, and the body of values which give meaning to life. Its characterization into different kinds (tangible, intangible, spiritual, etc), is simply descriptive and approximate, as one single piece of heritage may assume different meanings for a community, depending on the values it incorporates as perceived by the people concerned. For instance, a building which is considered of outstanding universal value – i.e. of exceptional significance for humanity as a whole – may at the same time have a special spiritual and social (intangible) significance for a given community, for which it greatly transcends the artistic architectural, aesthetic, and economic worth of the property concerned. It is exactly such a special spiritual and social significance which is usually targeted by the perpetrators of acts of intentional destruction of cultural heritage. Indeed, when they destroy a piece of cultural heritage, they demolish much more than an outstanding and irreplaceable object. They destroy the special – often spiritual – connection between that object and a human community, a fundamental element of the cultural and social identity of the latter, ultimately upsetting the community as such. The real target of most acts of intentional destruction of cultural heritage is therefore, not the heritage in itself but the human communities for which such a heritage is of special significance.’ The Oxford Handbook of International Cultural Heritage Law’, pages 76-78.
In the 16th century, the strategist and political philosopher Niccollo Machiavelli wrote that ‘he who becomes a master of a city accustomed to freedom and does not destroy it, may expect to be destroyed by it, for in rebellion it has always [been] the watchword of liberty and its ancient privileges as a rallying point, which neither time nor benefits will ever cause it to forget.’ (The Prince, Chapter V – ‘Concerning The Way To Govern Cities Or Principalities Which Lived Under Their Own Laws Before They Were Annexed.’)(1532). In other words, if you really want to destroy a people, its pride, it self esteem, and its sense of belonging to its own cultural identity, you need to destroy its cultural heritage (‘Machiavelli’s principle of survival’) [‘MPS’].
This reality has been denounced, much more recently by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), affirming that ‘the loss of heritage during times of conflict can deprive a community of its identity and memory, as well as the physical testimony of its past. Those destroying cultural heritage seek to disrupt the social fabric of societies.” Intentional destruction of cultural heritage carries a message of terror and helplessness: it destroys part of humanity’s shared memory and collective consciousness: and it renders humanity unable to transmit its values and knowledge to future generations.’
‘Most recent cases of international destruction of cultural heritage have in common the circumstances that the target of perpetrators was not a particular community that they wanted to annihilate but rather the international community as a whole, with the exception of those who share their same ideals. As noted by Ana Vrdoljak, it is “cultural and religious diversity which the perpetrators find abhorrent and seek to expunge through such acts.” In all those cases, these crimes against culture assume the characterisation not only of crimes against persons but also and especially of crimes against the international community as a whole.’ The Oxford Handbook Of Cultural Heritage Law (2020), page 90.
The Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention For The Protection of Cultural Property In The Event Of Armed Conflict enumerates five war crimes, known collectively as ‘serious violations’ of the Second Protocol, in respect of which States Parties owe a suite of obligations of suppression through their own or another willing States Party’s criminal law and courts.
In addition to the regime applicable to serious violations, the Second Protocol obliges States Parties to adopt such legislative, administrative, or disciplinary measures as may be necessary to suppress any use of cultural property in violation of the Convention or Second Protocol and any illicit export, other removal, or transfer of ownership of cultural property from occupied territory in violation of the Convention or Second Protocol.
Therefore, there is an unspoken connection between:
(i) the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage as a strategy by an invading force in war and occupation; and
The limits of war under International Humanitarian Law
Under IHL war has limits.
‘Current world affairs are plagued by a plethora of conflicts, many of them marked by methods of warfare displaying a shocking disregard for the established principles of international humanitarian law (‘IHL’). In some contexts, it seems that methods such as direct attacks against civilians and unarmed or wounded combatants, indiscriminate attacks, perfidious suicide-bombings, and the destruction and pillage of cultural objects have become commonplace, and it seems to have been forgotten that even wars have limits.
The so-called “Hague-Law”, which regulates the use of means and methods of warfare so as to mitigate, as much as possible, the “calamities of war”, is the oldest branch of IHL. It’s basic tenet can be summarised in three fundamental maxims, namely: (i) that “the only legitimate object which states should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken military forces of the enemy”; and that therefore, in pursuing this aim, both (ii) “the right of the parties to the conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited”; and (iii) “[t]he civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations.”
The first maxim expresses the basic principle of military necessity, which limits the permissibility of means and methods of warfare to what is actually required for the achievement of a legitimate military purpose. The second maxim provides the basis for the prohibition of means and methods of warfare that are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering to combatants. The third maxim concerns the principle of distinction, which prohibits not only direct attacks against civilians in the civilian population, but also indiscriminate means and methods of warfare. Both the prohibition of unnecessary suffering and the principle of distinction are regarded as “cardinal principles” of IHL by the International Court of Justice and, in this basic form, are universally accepted as part of customary international law.’ (The ‘Oxford Guide to International Humanitarian Law’ (2020), edited by Ben Saul and Dapo Akande, Chapter 10 – ‘Methods of Warfare’ by Gloria Gaggioli and Nils Melzer at page 235).
Violation of IHL can result in an offender being prosecuted for having committed a war crime.
States retain the primary responsibility in the prosecution of international crimes. Under the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I of 1977, States must prosecute people accused of war crimes before their own national courts or extradite them for trial elsewhere.
The International Criminal Court (‘ICC’), headquartered in the Hague, exercises a complementary jurisdiction in respect of international crimes, and may take up a case when either:
1. a State is unable or unwilling to prosecute the suspects, which include former and serving:
1.1 heads of state;
1.2 government ministers;
1.3 public officials;
1.4 military, intelligence, and police personnel of any rank;
1.5 members of a paramilitary group; and
1.6 civilians; or
2. the Court is requested to initiate proceedings by the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
The ICC is an independent international organisation, and is not part of the United Nations system. The jurisdiction of the ICC is limited to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, including war crimes. The ICC also has jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, which include a range of acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. Together, this includes most of the serious violations of international human rights law covered by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols, whether committed during an international or non-international armed conflict. While the ‘crime of aggression’, also mentioned in the Statute, was not defined during the establishment of the Court, it is within the ICC’s jurisdiction. Contrary to other international courts, the ICC may take action against individuals but not States. However, nothing in the ICC Statute releases States from their obligations under existing international humanitarian law or customary international law. ‘All war crimes are crimes for which there is universal jurisdiction, so that any State can prosecute them. The most authoritative and convenient, list of war crimes, committed in international or internal armed conflicts, is now to be found in the ICC statute. The defence that an accused was acting under the order of a superior is available only in very limited circumstances.’ Handbook of International Law, by Anthony Aust (formerly legal advisor to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office).
Fiduciary Principles of International Relations
Viewing future conflicts through the hard geo-political lens of the international relations doctrine of ‘Offensive Realism’, the rules of war under International Law (in particular under International Humanitarian Law [‘IHL’] are not an effective deterrent to the destruction of Cultural Heritage, because if an invading sovereign state is a hegemon/an aspiring hegemon [‘H‘], and the political logic underlying invasion is survival (i.e. because the political psychology of H is that it must dominate to survive), then achieving its political objectives requires the deliberate destruction of Cultural Heritage. This is based upon what the author calls, ‘Machiavelli’s Principle of Survival’ [‘MPS’] – see above.
Furthermore, the Achilles Heel of IHL is that to prosecute a violation you must be able to prove that the destruction of e.g. a monument, church or library was deliberately targeted. Even if you could prove this intent, there is no international police force to deter the destruction of Cultural Heritage before it happens, i.e. IHL has no political, diplomatic or military teeth.
Because of the strategic significance and value of Cultural Heritage (which in the opinion of the author is often completely misunderstood by politicians, policy makers, diplomats and the military), is there a better way of deterring the destruction of Cultural Heritage in war?
The author argues that there is, and that as part of this vision:
(i) The protection of Cultural Heritage needs to be integrated into a grand strategy in confronting and defeating an enemy during war – not least because of the paradox that when the enemy destroys part of a shared Cultural Heritage, it is destabilising its own society, because it is destroying part of: (i) its own identity; and (ii) a historical legacy owned by its own people. Therefore, its own people will inevitably ask – ‘who and what are we fighting for – the survival of a political elite (‘them’) or ourselves (‘us’).’
(ii) There is an urgent need to explore innovative and practical mechanisms that will allow non-state actors (NSA’s), to ensure the sustainable protection of Cultural Heritage. This is linked to the use of ‘Cultural Heritage Diplomacy’ as an instrument in the mediation of a peace process and agreement.
The author concludes that:
(i) Universally recognised fiduciary principles for the protection and preservation of Cultural Heritage exist under IHL.
(ii) These fiduciary principles can cohere as an ethical foundation for:
(a) the development of an integrated strategic framework for the protection of Cultural Heritage in a conflict zone; and
(b) its implementation, though a process of ‘humanitarian’ mediation.
The author further argues, that as a matter of practical application, (i) and (ii) above are strategically linked to:
(iii) Principles for the peaceful resolution through a process of multilateral ‘Cultural Heritage Diplomacy‘ of the apparently irreconcilable conflict between:
(a) the ethical duty of a state and its government to behave as a ‘fiduciary of humanity’; and
(b) the political instincts and ambitions of H in an ‘offensive realism’ paradigm – i.e. their impulse to destroy cultural heritage and its symbols in order to suppress and indoctrinate by erasing the cultural memory of the people H is oppressing (see: John Mearsheimer – Offensive Realism in Brief | Genius).
(iv) The development of a unified and coherent international relations doctrine of ‘Fiduciary Principled Behaviour’ – i.e. the political idea that states and governments can maximise their survival and gains through collaboration, instead of competition, because ‘competition’ leads to ‘confrontation’ which can result in war.
(v) The mediation of a process and protocol for the preservation and protection of Cultural Heritage in a conflict zone by a politically non-aligned non-state actor (‘NSA‘), as a foundation stone in the negotiation of a sustainable and enduring peace process and agreement, based upon recognition of shared values, interests, realpolitik, and practical ethics.
Are fiduciary principles and norms underlying IHL a tool in the negotiation of a peace process and agreement?
If fiduciary principles are a cornerstone of IHL, are they a potential negotiation tool in the mediation of a peace process and agreement?
As the author observed above, there is a tension between the:
(a) common ground [‘CG’] represented by a shared cultural heritage (including a set of ethical, philosophical and religious values/beliefs); and
(b) political ambitions and objectives [‘PA’] that drive military strategy in war.
A logical corollary of MPS, is that where CG exists between an invading state and an invaded state, that the invader must destroy part of itself in order to achieve its political objective(s). Analysing the psychology of an invasion through the lens of an ‘Offensive Realism’ paradigm (see Mearsheimer, John J. (2014) The Tragedy Of Great Power Politics), if an invading sovereign state is a hegemon/an aspiring hegemon), i.e. H, and the political logic underlying invasion is survival, i.e. because a hegemon must dominate, then there is a paradox because PA requires the destruction of CG. In other words, to achieve its political objectives, H must destroy part of itself.
Therefore, invasion may be a political mistake. The miscalculation is that instead of H becoming stronger it will actually weaken itself, because by invading a state with a shared cultural heritage, H will to an extent destroy its own cultural identity. If that happens then over time, institutionally H may become unstable and ungovernable, resulting ultimately in the political break-up of H. In other words, institutionally, the destruction of CG by H is an act of political self-destruction.
The existential question for H then becomes, how do they end the war without ending up being in a worse position than they were in before it, in order to:
(i) preserve the status quo within H itself; and
(ii) restore the balance of power (i.e. the status quo ante) between H and other hegemons and aspiring hegemons in the region/world, including H‘s political allies – who may pursue their own self interest at the expense of H, if H becomes politically unstable, i.e. by annexing territory that H can no longer politically control, i.e. because its military capability and economy have been weakened.
If the author is right, then the calculus of risk by H is a dynamic that can influence a decision by H to end a war by positively engaging in mediation.
In other words, the fiduciary principles and norms that underly IHL are a tool in the negotiation of a peace process and agreement. Arguably, these principles are powerful tool, because violation, i.e. the impact of war on CG, may adversely affect public opinion within H and weaken support for the war.
When the political strategy of H is to create a failed state [‘FS‘], where it has failed in its primary objective to turn the invaded state into a client state, then the preservation and protection of cultural heritage in the invaded state, is arguably elevated to the level of being a threat to the national security of any other state in the region [S], because there is a risk of a failed state emerging within S‘s geo-political sphere of influence. If the destruction of CG has the potential to politically destabilise H, then it follows that S also has a national security interest in the survival of H. Therein, and counter-intuitively, lies the seed of a principle that can result in the mediation of terms of peace which ensure the survival of both H and the sovereign state invaded by H. If this geo-political interest is recognised by all parties to the conflict and their supporters, then this can open up a dialogue which includes the use of cultural heritage as a language of diplomacy, to negotiate a ceasefire and peace agreement. This is where a politically non-aligned NSA can play an instrumental diplomatic and mediation role.
Universal ‘ethical’ values under IHL
Whether IHL can bring warring P‘s together in an ‘offensive realism’ paradigm depends upon the answer to the following questions:
- Do ‘universal ethical values’ exist under IHL, i.e. as ‘core fiduciary principles and norms’ [‘UV-IHL’].
- What are these values – see below.
- In the real world, are UV-IHL’s potential building blocks, in the Mediation of a peace process, protocol, and agreement – i.e. are they a sufficient basis for starting a ‘difficult’ conversation that can eventually transform attitudes and each P’s Political Doctrine [‘PD’], resulting in the negotiation of a sustainable and enduring Peace Treaty.
Where CG exists, then the answer to the second question depends upon whether UV-IHL’s align with H’s political interest in the preservation of CG, destruction of CG is ultimately an act on institutional self-destruction. So, in theory, because, by definition preservation of CG is common ground, the door is open to Mediation through Cultural Heritage Diplomacy.
Whether a convergence of values can be diplomatically engineered through a process of Transformative Mediation involving a politically non-aligned NSA, depends upon what the causes and driving forces of a conflict actually are.
At the King’s College London School of Security Studies Annual Conference on the 8th and 9th June 2022, the author asked the following question – ‘Is understanding what lies underneath competing narratives [‘N’] the key to mediation of a peace process in a conflict?’ i.e. can analysis of N reveal:
- the philosophy and political doctrine driving a conflict on each side; and
- (ii) psychological biases which are road-blocks in geo-political mediation?
The author drew the following conclusions from the comments made by the speakers in reply:
(i) Mediation is not possible where H and the invaded P requires the destruction of the other, i.e. when the values and interests underlying each N collide.
(ii) Conversely, Mediation is possible where the ‘ethical values’ underlying each N potentially overlap, because they can potentially cohere.
(a) the claims made by H reveal value driven ‘choices made by the H State elite’; and
(b) the elite is more than one man,
then ‘collective’ thinking will not change unless and until H’s state elite, alter their H‘s Political Doctrine [‘PD’].
The antithesis of ‘offensive realism’, i.e. a counter-thesis, is the idea of ‘solidarity’ between states, which to an extent is rooted in fiduciary principles and norms of behaviour under IHL. However logically, the concept is a grand ‘delusion’, unless this worldview is a strategic component of PD. Therefore, before undertaking a step in Mediation, a Mediator who is a NSA [‘M’] needs to first see the world through H’s eyes.
If the invaded P does not:
(i) understand H’s N; or
(ii) believe that the values which are the foundation of H’s N actually exist in the collective psychology of H‘s state elite, and are therefore deeply embedded in H‘s PD,
e.g. because P‘s intelligence gathering capability did not see or correctly interpret the signs of war before P was invaded by H – i.e. P did not foresee the conflict or believe that it would happen, then Mediation is doomed from the start because P cannot see where the ‘rails’ of the underlying and causal political dispute actually lie, let alone the direction in which the train is going.
It is a cardinal principle of any Mediation that the Mediator must not make the situation worse. This principle applies to the Mediation of a geo-political conflict no less than it applies to a civil dispute. Therefore, M must rigorously analyse, probe and interrogate each N in order to accurately see and understand the root causes of the conflict through the eyes of each P. Only then, will it be possible to explore and identify the existence of common ground, i.e. values (including UV-IHL’s i.e. because of CG) – which is why a process of Mediation can transform a conflict into a sustainable peace, provided H and P are actually ready to talk to each other through M. Therefore, CG is a potential catalyst of Transformative Mediation.
Principles & Norms of IHL in relation to Cultural Heritage
Although it can be said that jus cogens rules consist of rules stipulating erga omnes obligations, it is not axiomatic that erga omnes obligations constitute jus cogens. While there is an overlap, between: (i) obligations erga omnes; and (ii) jus cogens rules, the IHL principles and norms that can be derived from the nexus between these doctrines in relation to Cultural Heritage, suffer from a lack of scholarly formulation, definition and classification.
Thinking strategically about the protection of cultural heritage during war
In the opinion of the author, the protection of Cultural Heritage needs to be integrated into a grand strategy in confronting and politically defeating an enemy during war, in order to engineer a re-orientation of H‘s Political Doctrine.
The strategic aim would be to create doubt in the collective psychology of H‘s state elite, about the validity and relevance of the assumptions upon which H‘s PD is fundamentally based. PD is the foundation and driving force behind H‘s narrative. In the collective mind of H’s state elite N is therefore the political rationale for the conflict, because it is the singular moral driving force behind H‘s aggression. Where a conflict is primarily the result of a ‘clash’ of divergent values, the solution, i.e. peace, therefore hinges upon evolving a method of convergence. The author’s thesis, is that ‘universal ethical values’ which are the foundation of IHL can be applied through Mediation to reduce divergence by demonstrating compatibility. With some creative thinking, IHL can therefore be used to create a road-map for the negotiation of peace.
A challenge for the Mediator [‘M’] in any dispute is to bring about a ‘paradigm shift’ in the attitude and behaviour of each participant [‘P’] to: (i) themselves; and (ii) the dispute/conflict, by enabling each P to:
- Discover and explore their true hidden motivation.
- Recognise and acknowledge, that they are ‘all in the same boat,’ in that they are all trapped in a reciprocal cycle of mutual destruction, from which neither can or will emerge as an overall victor/‘winner.’
- Accept that armed conflict and oppression cannot kill an ‘idea’ and ‘values’. Therefore, unless and until a modus vivendi has been agreed, there will be endless conflict. So what is the point of armed conflict/war?
‘One of the most important elements of the mediation process is the exploration of the covert reasons for the dispute, as well as the overt. The parties will have developed rigid values and belief systems as their overall strategy for survival in an uncertain world. These can emerge in the dispute as perhaps just a single particular belief. But this might simply be one aspect of an overall overt strategy for achieving a ‘winning position’. Beneath this may lie many other diverse motivations: pride, jealousy, anger, hurt, envy, kudos, arrogance, greed, vanity, the protection of identity, self-esteem and numerous other hidden driving forces. … Frequently, the parties may not even recognise that the real conflict is hidden and very different to what they express it to be. They may not understand or recognise their own true underlying motives: they may believe they are simply seeking proper redress or compensation, whereas in fact they are expressing anger and hurt, and a desire to see the other party punished and humiliated.’ (‘Mediation – A Psychological Insight into Conflict Resolution’, by Freddie Strasser and Paul Randolph (2004), continuum.
What can we learn from classical literature about the psychology of human conflict in an anarchic and uncertain world, e.g. ‘Empedocles Sphere’? See:
- Empedocles (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
- untitled (umich.edu) – EMPEDOCLES, ON NATURE I 233–364: A NEW RECONSTRUCTION OF P. STRASB. GR. INV. 1665–6
- Fragments of Empedocles – Wikisource, the free online library
- Empedocles | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (utm.edu)
This is a subject I will return to later in the year, after I have read the ‘Fragments’, as the poetry of Empedocles may contain profound truths which Mediators today can use/adapt as an ‘analytical framework’ for engaging in a difficult conversation with the P’s about the: nature; root causes; and underlying dynamics driving any conflict.
‘Coalitions of the Weak’
Earlier in the week, Victor Shih, Associate Professor, Ho Miu Lam Chair in China and Pacific Relations – School of Global Policy & Strategy UC San Diego (ucsd.edu), presented a Zoom talk to the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University (https://lnkd.in/e9P8atem) about the subject of his new book, ‘Coalitions of the Weak’ (Cambridge University Press) (2022). As one of the reviewers on the Amazon page for his book observes, ‘At a time when scholarship and public opinion alike stress the seamless strength of the Chinese Communist state, Victor Shih paints a more complex picture in which insecure leaders from Mao to Xi assemble Coalitions of the Weak to perpetuate their personal rule. Based on a wealth of primary sources, Shih’s fascinating analysis reveals an inherent trade-off between autocratic power and policy success that points to a fundamental vulnerability at the heart of China’s political system.’ (Elizabeth J. Perry, Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University). What are the wider lessons to be drawn for Humanitarian Mediation where one participant is a one-party autocracy? Two thoughts occurred to me during the talk:
(i) Unless the other participants [‘P’s] and the mediator [‘M‘] are communicating directly with the leader of the one-party autocracy [‘L’], they cannot accurately evaluate the mind of L, or be certain that what they say to his/her representatives will be accurately conveyed to L.
(ii) In negotiating with L or his/her representatives, unless the other P’s understand: (a) the internal dynamics of the autocracy; and (b) L’s fears and personal insecurities, then what the P’s think is rational and propose may:
– be doomed to failure from the start, i.e. because in the psychology of L it weakens his/her position as leader;
– make things worse, i.e. because what they are proposing threatens the existence of L, or could undermine his/her authority and potential political longevity.
An expert granular analysis may reveal that popular assumptions and beliefs about an opponent or comptetitor are not only simplistic, but are based upon myth, and not reality. The moral is to study and attempt to understand your opponent/competitor before making a political judgement and deciding policy. In order to do this, you must first see the world through their eyes. Before you can do that, you need to study the history of their political universe and culture.
I was also reminded of what Sun Tzu said, ‘Know the enemy and know yourself in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.’
This leads to a third thought, that unless M is an expert on L and of the political world L inhabits, M‘s effectivenes can be enhanced by involving an expert co-mediator/’political advisor’.
‘Analysing the causes of armed conflict’
There is a methodological distinction between analysing the:
(i) ‘structural’ i.e. ‘deep’ causes of a conflict; and
(ii) ‘precipitating’ i.e. immediate causes of the conflict – by analogy, the moment when a ‘bolt’ of lightening set fire to the forest, e.g. in a geopolitical context, a dispute about a maritime border that results in a confrontation at sea. That is because the precipitating causes cannot tell you what has happened in the past. In order to mediate a geopolitical conflict, a mediator needs to understand the ‘historical roots’ of the conflict that have shaped each party’s competing narrative. The questions the mediator should ask each party to explain to him/her are:
(a) What brought the parties to where they are today?
(b) What kept them away from the negotiating table in the past?
(c) What has now brought them to the negotiating table?
A fundamental analytical tool for discussion in the mediated resolution of any dispute/conflict, is the drafting of a chronology of events based upon facts and evidence – in contrast to myth and belief. Without the benefit of historical perspective, a Mediator cannot begin to understand how and why each party feels and thinks the way they do, their behaviour, and the underlying:
(i) Competing interests that need to be reconciled.
(ii) Dynamics which have shaped and are driving the dispute.
In a proxy war, these interests include the competing strategic geopolitical ambitions and imperatives of hegemons, and the dynamics include domestic politics and elections. Therefore, in preparing for mediation, each party needs to be clear about the ‘real’ facts, circumstances, and events, that both preceded and resulted in armed conflict. Then, the Mediator can help to move the warring parties along from where they are now toward peace, by enabling them to transform conflict into co-existence by jointly developing a peace process and agreement. Looking back through the clear lens of historical facts is therefore the first step in developing a ‘road-map’ for peaceful co-existence. In my opinion, looking forwards, the potential ‘building blocks’ of a peace process and agreement, include shared/universal ‘fiduciary principles’ of international relations, e.g. preserving and protecting agricultural land and the wider environment. See:
– My essay a ‘Fiduciary Theory of Art’ on the ‘Mediation of Art & Cultural Heritage Disputes’ page at www.carlislam.co.uk.
–Conflict Analysis: Questions and Answers with the Author | United States Institute of Peace (usip.org)
Factors Shaping the Course of Intractable Conflict | Beyond Intractability
The Five Main Causes of Conflict – Vilendrer Law, PC
Structural Causes of Conflict and the Superficiality of Transition | (lawexplores.com)
‘10th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Share a vision of co-existence.’ Explore and find common ground by engaging in a mediated diplomatic conversation about the existence and relevance of “Fiduciary Principles of International Relations” which transcend regional balance of power politics, e.g. rules and norms of International Humanitarian Law.
In order to share and develop a joint vision of co-existence which is not discordant in ‘realist’ theory with the survival of each ruling elite, the P’s can discover what they have in common by exploring the existence of hopes and ambitions which transcend regional balance of power politics. Instead of fighting each other they can work together to solve global problems which are an existential threat to their region, e.g. climate change. Beyond their region they can work together for the betterment of mankind by e.g. researching a cure for cancer, stabilising the global economy, and exploring space.
Hidden away in the Report to China’s 2022 Party Congress is the following passage:
‘We have grown stronger in basic research and original innovation, made breakthroughs in some core technologies in key fields, and boosted emerging strategic industries. We have witnessed major successes on multiple fronts, including manned spaceflight, lunar and Martian exploration, deep sea and deep earth probes, supercomputers, satellite navigation, quantum information, nuclear power technology, airliner manufacturing, and biomedicine. China has joined the ranks of the world’s innovators. … – We must maintain a global vision. The Communist Party of China is dedicated to pursuing happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation. It is also dedicated to human progress and world harmony. We should expand our global vision and develop keen insight into the trends of human development and progress, respond to the general concerns of people of all countries, and play our part in resolving the common issues facing humankind. With an open mind, we should draw inspiration from all of human civilization’s outstanding achievements and work to build an even better world.’
Report to China’s 2022 Party Congress Transcript: President Xi Jinping’s report to China’s 2022 party congress – Nikkei Asia
‘The head of the US Navy has warned that the American military must be prepared for the possibility of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan before 2024, as Washington grows increasingly alarmed about the threat to the island. Admiral Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, said the US had to consider that China could take action against Taiwan much sooner than even the more pessimistic warnings. The debate in the US about when China might invade Taiwan has intensified since Admiral Philip Davidson, then-head of Indo-Pacific Command, told Congress last year that the Chinese military could take action against Taiwan before 2027. Davidson’s warning was partly downplayed at the time, but officials have intensified their warnings over the past year. “When we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window,” Gilday told the Atlantic Council on Wednesday. “I don’t mean at all to be alarmist . . . it’s just that we can’t wish that away.” Gilday’s comments came two days after US secretary of state Antony Blinken said China was “determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline” after deciding that the status quo was “no longer acceptable”. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has warned Washington not to encourage pro-independence forces in the country. At the opening of the Chinese Communist party’s 20th congress on Sunday, President Xi Jinping admonished the US for supporting Taiwan as he accused “external forces” of exacerbating tensions across the Taiwan Strait and suggested outside actors would shoulder the blame if China felt compelled to attack the country. Underscoring the mounting concern about Chinese military activity near Taiwan, which has increased in the wake of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August, Joe Biden has on four occasions as president warned China that the US would intervene to defend Taiwan from an unprovoked attack.’ US Navy chief warns China could invade Taiwan before 2024 | Financial Times (ft.com)
Kevin Rudd – How likely is a US-China war? Kevin Rudd on a new era Xi Jinping | DW News – YouTube
Xi Jinping tightens grip on power as China’s Communist party elevates his status | China | The Guardian
- Shirk, Susan L (2022) Overreach: How China Derailed Its Peaceful Rise, OUP USA.
- Rudd, Kevin (2022) The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping’s China, Public Affairs.
- Allison, Graham (2018) Destined for War: can America and China escape Thucydides’ Trap?, Scribe UK.
‘9th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Calculate the political price of doing a deal.’
At the top of the ‘Mediation of Probate Trust & Tax Disputes’ page at www.carlislam.co.uk I argue that, mediation is ‘about doing a deal, [which] means you have to decide the price of doing a deal.’ The same principle applies to the mediation of a geopolitical dispute or conflict.
Because of the inescapable logic of mutually assured destruction, there is no BATNA (‘Best Alternative To A negotiated Agreement’) where nuclear powers stumble into a war in which their full nuclear arsenals are launched. However, in order to agree a modus vivendi there must be sufficient equilibrium in the balance of power to allow for flexibility without jeopardising survival. It is therefore necessary for each participant in a geo-political mediation [‘P’] to calculate the political price of doing a deal. Deciding to pay the price requires vision, courage, and leadership.
‘To attempt to manage [the] inescapable risk of nuclear confrontation, Kennedy repeatedly overrode the urgings of his advisers, choosing instead to give Khrushchev more time to consider, adapt and adjust. … In doing so, he crafted a unique political cocktail that consisted of a public deal, a private ultimatum, and a secret sweetener – all in defiance of the advice from most of his National Security Council. … JFK knew that proactive steps to avert such stand-offs could come at a high price, including compromising on politically sensitive issues and postponing initiatives that, while not essential, were nonetheless important. But he concluded that the price was worth paying. In his words, the enduring lesson of the Cuban missile crisis was; “above all, while defending our vital national interests, nuclear powers must avert confrontations that force an adversary to choose between a humiliating retreat and nuclear war.” [‘Commencement address at American University, June 10, 1963’].
To make similar wise choices, US leaders will need to muster a combination of hard thinking and harder work. They can begin with four core ideas:
- Clarify vital interests.
- Understand what [an adversary] is trying to do.
- Do strategy.
- Make domestic challenges central.’
(‘Destined For War – Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap‘ by Graham Allinson, 2017). President Joe Biden has described Graham Allinson as, ‘one of the keenest observers of international affairs around.’ See also my blog below, ‘Diplomacy and defence are not substitutes for one another – 1961 Address at University of Washington by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 25th President of the United States of America’).
‘Time to mediate?’
At the King’s College London School of Security Studies Annual Conference, during a session held on the 9th June 2022, one of the delegates asked a speaker (who was a member of the US military), why Russia had not thrown all of its might into the fight, i.e. deployed all of its military force. The answer which came back was that ‘it had’.
On the 10th August 2022 the BBC reported, ‘There are indications the Kremlin is running out of troops for its war with Ukraine. Regional authorities in Russia are pursuing a campaign to recruit volunteer fighters, but it is not getting much traction, one report says. According to independent Russian website Mediazona, at least 25 Russian regions are now trying to form volunteer battalions. It has been reported that in the last 5 days Russia has lost the equivalent of one battalion (i.e. c.1000 soldiers including tanks and equipment) per day.
Mathematically, there will comes a point hen Russia can no longer sustain military operations in Ukraine.
Today, in the News Statesman, Ido Vock in his ‘World Review’ wrote, ‘The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, calculates that Ukrainian forces have recaptured more territory in five days than Russia had since April. … ‘Boris Nadezhdin, a former member of the Duma, Russia’s national parliament, said on TV: “It is absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine” with Russia’s current strategy of refusing to declare a full-scale war, leaving Moscow with the choice of suing for peace or escalating the conflict (a decision Vladimir Putin has been loath to take, preferring a piecemeal “shadow mobilisation”). The significance of Nadezhdin’s appearance lies less in his words and more in the fact that a long-standing (and largely politically insignificant) pro-Western liberal was invited on state TV at all. The Kharkiv counteroffensive may finally be the signal that gets through to the Russian leadership. Putin may have believed that in time, Russia’s supposedly superior numbers would grind the Ukrainians down and allow Moscow victory. In fact, something like the opposite has happened, with exhausted Russian forces rapidly retreating when probed, their supply lines weakened by months of Ukrainian strikes using US-supplied Himars rocket systems. The Russian army can now choose only how to lose. The first option is to continue putting off the hard choices and carry on suffering military defeats, including further south now that Ukraine has the initiative. The second is for Putin to declare war and enact a full mobilisation. It would take months, however, to train men called up, while Russia is having difficulty equipping the troops it has currently deployed and Ukraine is making gains right now. The third is for Moscow to seek genuine peace negotiations, although Kyiv’s recent successes on the battlefield may make it more reluctant to settle for limited concessions. The final option would be some kind of drastic escalation, such as the use of nuclear weapons or an engineered radiation leak at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, although such a reckless gamble would signal Russia’s extreme weakness and further threaten the survival of the regime. It is a delightful irony that the Ukrainian offensive made so much progress in the days leading up to 11 September. It is that date, of course, which had long been mooted for when sham “referendums” on the annexations by Russia of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions would be held. The Armed Forces of Ukraine cast their vote early.’
‘The Russian armed force’s most prestigious and leading tank formation, designed to defend Moscow, has been “severely degraded”, according to British intelligence. The 1st Guards Tank Army, of the Western Military District, will require “years” to rebuild its capability as the main unit designed to defend Moscow and lead counter-attacks in the case of war with Nato, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday. … In its daily intelligence briefing, the MoD said: “Elements of the Russian forces withdrawn from Kharkiv Oblast over the last week were from the 1st Guards Tank Army (1 GTA), which are subordinate to the Western Military District (WEMD). “1 GTA suffered heavy casualties in the initial phase of the invasion and had not been fully reconstituted prior to the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kharkiv.” British military officials added: “1 GTA had been one of the most prestigious of Russia’s armies, allocated for the defence of Moscow, and intended to lead counter-attacks in the case of a war with Nato.”’ (Ukraine war latest: Prestigious Russian tank army tasked with defending Moscow ‘severely degraded’ by Josh White, Grace Millimaci, and Joe Barnes – the Daily Telegraph 13.09.2022).
‘A Russian marines brigade has been almost completely wiped out by Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Kyiv said Monday. … The update … said that the Ukrainian military destroyed almost 85 percent of Russia’s 810 marine infantry brigade, which is based in the city of Sevastopol in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. “After the successful actions carried out by the Defense Forces in the Kherson direction, the enemy suffered significant losses in manpower.”
Ukraine said the rest of the servicemen have an extremely low morale and psychological state, and “massively refuse to return to the combat zone.”’ (Newsweek 12.09.2022).
‘Half of Russia’s Black Sea fleet’s combat jets out of operation, Western official says – Blasts at the Saky air base in the annexed Crimean peninsula earlier this month have put more than half of the Russian Black Sea fleet’s naval aviation combat jets out of use, a Western official said on Friday. … The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ukraine was now consistently achieving “kinetic effects” deep behind Russia’s lines which was having a material impact on Russia’s logistics support and “a significant psychological effect on the Russian leadership”.’ (Reuters 19th August).
‘Shelling around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has sparked grave concerns about the risk of radioactive catastrophe. The U.N. atomic watchdog has proposed the creation of a protection zone around the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, and both sides are interested, IAEA chief said. “We are playing with fire,” Rafael Grossi told reporters.” We can not continue in a situation, where we are one step away from a nuclear accident. The safety of the Zaporizhzhia power plant is hanging by a thread.”‘ (Reuters 13.09.2022).
‘A senior Chinese official told the UN on Friday that just one incident might cause a serious nuclear accident “with irreversible consequences for the ecosystem and public health of Ukraine and its neighbouring countries”. Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative at the UN, pointedly called on all parties involved “to exercise maximum restraint strictly abide by international law and minimise the risk of accidents”, adding: ”We must not allow the tragedies of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents to be repeated.”’ (i News updated 28.08.2022).
8th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – ‘Analyse the underlying dynamics.’
Each underlying dynamic [‘UD’] may be an opportunity/constraint. While in ‘realist’ IR theory*, a state will always place is own strategic imperatives above compliance with rules of international law, understanding the interplay of the UD’s may provide insights about common ground where the UD‘s intersect. A technique for mapping the UD’s is to categorize each one by reference to a series of overlapping circles, and to identify where they theoretically or actually interconnect. The categories may include, e.g.
- Domestic political drivers.
- National strategic imperatives.
- Geo-political ambitions.
- Resources. [This includes the 3 P‘s that drive future economic growth: (i) population (size i.e whether it is increasing or shrinking); (ii) participation in the workforce (i.e. age skills & education); and (iii) productivity, because the balance of power between ‘State 1’, and ‘State 2’, will remain relatively stable unless and until the economic growth of State 1 exceeds that of State 2. Therefore, if State 1 has a population that is both shrinking and ageing, it cannot overtake State 2 as a economic and military power/super-power. In which case its PD/PND is wishful thinking, because it will lose if its goes to war with State 2].
- Existential threats.
Where these categories interconnect, it may be possible to avoid ‘Thucydides Trap’ if a coherent framework of practical principles for ensuring co-existence emerges during a process of jointly plotting a critical path toward peace. This requires first seeing/recognising, and second reframing, ‘critical constraints’ as ‘opportunities’, e.g. for mutually beneficial, i.e. economically prosperous collaboration, based upon: geography; resources; mutual respect for sovereignty and culture (see the ‘7th Principle’ below); security; and commercial access. The transformation of a constraint into an opportunity where the UD‘s intersect, e.g. international trade, can result in the joint construction of new ‘Pillars’, see my post below about the ‘6th Principle.’
*The example cited by Professor John Mearsheimer being the ‘Monroe Doctrine’, see:https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/monroe-doctrine#:~:text=The%20Monroe%20Doctrine%20is%20the,further%20colonization%20or%20puppet%20monarchs).
[This in incomplete].
7th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – ‘Legitimacy.’
In my post below about the ‘6th Principle’, I wrote, ‘As preparation for mediation, the participants in an armed conflict may start to walk down a road that leads to ‘convergence’ by analysing resolution through the prism of:
(i) existing ‘pillars’, which can be reinforced (i.e. economic, geostrategic, and multilateral); and
(ii) new ‘pillars’ which can be jointly constructed, in order to agree in mediation upon a ‘political and strategic framework’ for managing their relationship.’
The 7th Principle is the 1st Pillar.
If each P can acknowledge the existence of the other (‘Legitimacy’), then axiomatically each P recognises that they can co-exist with each other. Legitimacy requires respect. Respect can engender trust. Once the foundation stones of ‘Respect’ and ‘Trust’ have been laid down, then a constructive problem solving dialogue can begin.
In order to co-exist in peace, a rules-based order needs to be developed and implemented.
Therefore, the starting point is a mediated dialogue about a ‘rules based order’ for peaceful co-existence, within which each P can compete with the other without sleep-walking into ‘Thucydides Trap’, see: https://lnkd.in/eEkWkbzp
In order to minimise the risk of accidental nuclear war occurring because of a decision made at the periphery e.g. by a submarine commander (which is what nearly happened during the Cuban missile crisis – see Max Hastings’ forthcoming book – ‘Abyss: The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962’), a protocol needs to be agreed about how to reduce and manage that risk. This requires co-operation and is a first step in developing trust based upon mutual survival. ‘Legitimacy’ and ‘Thucydides Trap’ are ideas that I will return to in future blogs about Humanitarian Mediation.
6th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Analyse the existence of pillars to support a political and strategic framework for managing the relationship between the states who are in direct conflict with each other
As the former Prime Minister of Australia , The Honourable Kevin Rudd observes in the context of managing the relationship between the US and China, in his book, ‘The Avoidable War – The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict Between the US and Xi Jinping’s China’,
‘[O]ur best chance of avoiding war is to better understand the other side’s strategic thinking and to conceptualise a world where both the US and China are able to competitively coexist, even if in a state of continuing rivalry reinforced by mutual deterrence. A world where political leaders are empowered to preside over a competitive race rather than resorting to the lethality of actual armed conflict. Indeed, if we can preserve the peace of the decade ahead, political circumstances may eventually change: strategic thought may evolve in the face of new, much broader planetary changes; and it may then be possible for leaders to imagine a different way of thinking (the Chinese term is ‘siwei’) that prioritises collaboration over conflict in meeting the existential global challenges confronting us all.’ In my essay a ‘Fiduciary Theory of Art’ which appears on the ‘Mediation of Art and Cultural Heritage Disputes’ at www.carlislam.co.uk), under the sub-heading, ‘Fiduciary Principles of International Relations’ (reproduced below), I argue that ‘Fiduciary Principles of International Relations’ including the protection and preservation of Cultural Heritage are a ‘foundation stone in the negotiation of a sustainable and enduring peace process and agreement, based upon recognition of shared values, interests, realpolitik, and practical ethics.
Therefore, as preparation for mediation, the participants in an armed conflict may start to walk down a road that leads to ‘convergence’ by analysing resolution through the prism of:
(i) existing ‘pillars’, which can be reinforced (i.e. economic, geostrategic, and multilateral); and
(ii) new ‘pillars’ which can be jointly constructed,
in order to agree in mediation upon a ‘political and strategic framework’ for managing their relationship.
This requires recognition that ‘Fiduciary Principles of International Relations’, are a universal tool in humanitarian mediation, because of the existence of ‘GIEC’s’ (including climate change – which is a global existential threat) and global financial stability – see the ‘2nd Principle of Humanitarian Mediation’ below.
5th principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Do not make things worse
See my blog below – ‘Engineering Convergence through Mediation – Can we put the Genie back into the bottle?’ in which I state,
‘At the King’s College London School of Security Studies Annual Conference on the 8th and 9th June 2022, I asked [the] question ‘Is understanding what lies underneath competing narratives [‘N’] the key to mediation of a peace process in a conflict?’
i.e. can analysis of N reveal:
(i) the philosophy and political doctrine driving a conflict on each side; and
(ii) psychological biases which are road-blocks in geo-political mediation?
… before undertaking a step in Mediation W needs to first see the world through P‘s eyes. If W views the world through a rose-tinted geo-political lens, it will be looking inwards and not outward, in which case the outcome is likely to be strategic miscalculation, i.e. if the result is a mischaracterization of N by W, because W either: (i) does not understand N; or (ii) does not believe that N is real, actually exists in the psychology of P, and therefore is deeply embedded in PND. This incongruence dooms Mediation from the start, because W cannot even see where the ‘rails’ of the underlying and causal political dispute actually are, let alone the direction in which the train is going. Therefore, what W does can only halt the train by accident and not by design. Far worse, W can derail the train – which could be catastrophic for all on board. That is why it is a cardinal principle of any Mediation that the Mediator must not make the situation worse. This principle applies to the Mediation of a geo-political conflict no less than it applies to a civil dispute.’
Avoiding making things worse by understanding N, connects with the need for development of ‘a new level of mutual strategic literacy’, and a norm known as ‘managed strategic competition’ [‘MSC‘] proposed by The Honourable Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and author of the ‘Avoidable War – The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict Between the U.S. and Xi Jinping’s China’ published earlier this year. The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping’s China: Amazon.co.uk: Rudd, Kevin: 9781541701298: Books
‘There is both a moral and a practical obligation for friends of China and friends of the United States to think through what has become the single hardest question of international relations of our century: how to preserve the peace and prosperity we have secured over the last three-quarters of a century while recognizing the reality of changing power relativities between Washington and Beijing. We can allow the primordial dimensions of Thucydidean logic to simply take their natural course, ultimately culminating in crisis, conflict, or even war. Or we can identify potential strategic off-ramps, or at least guardrails, which may help preserve the peace among the great powers while also sustaining the integrity of the rules-based order that has underpinned the stability of the wider international relations system since 1945.
Therefore, to borrow a question from Lenin himself: “What is to be done?” As a first step, each side must be mindful of how their actions will be read by the other through the prism of their accumulated national perceptions — in other words, what buttons light up in the decision-making processes on one side when a particular action is taken by the other. At present, both sides are bad at this, often reflecting a combination of mutually assured non-comprehension and mirror imaging that has long characterized large parts of the U.S.-China relationship. If we are serious about the possibility of developing a joint strategic narrative that might be capable of governing the future of the relationship peacefully, we must, at a minimum, be mindful of how strategic language, actions, and diplomatic signaling will be interpreted within each side’s political culture, systems, and elites. It is this sort of awareness that can help us navigate the practical complexities of competing national interests, values, and perceptions within a stable, albeit still competitive, strategic framework.
Developing a new level of mutual strategic literacy, however, is only the beginning. What follows must be the hard work of constructing a joint strategic framework between Washington and Beijing that is capable of achieving the following three interrelated tasks:
- Agreeing on principles and procedures for navigating each other’s strategic redlines (for example, over Taiwan) that, if inadvertently crossed, would likely result in military escalation.
- Mutually identifying the areas of nonlethal national security policy—foreign policy, economic policy, technology development (for example, over semiconductors) —and ideology where full-blown strategic competition is accepted as the new normal.
- Defining those areas where continued strategic cooperation (for example, on climate change) is both recognized and encouraged.’
See: China and the U.S.: The Case for Managed Strategic Competition | Asia Society
4th Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Realism
In my blog ‘Fiduciary Principles of International Relations’ (below), I wrote,
‘When the political strategy of H is to create a failed state [‘FS‘], where it has failed in its primary objective to turn the invaded state into a client state, … [this is] a threat to the national security of any other state in the region [S], because there is a risk of a failed state emerging within S‘s geo-political sphere of influence. If the destruction of CG has the potential to politically destabilise H, then it follows that S also has a national security interest in the survival of H. Therein, and counter-intuitively, lies the seed of a principle that can result in the mediation of terms of peace which ensure the survival of both H and the sovereign state invaded by H. If this geo-political interest is recognised by all parties to the conflict and their supporters, then this can open up a dialogue … to negotiate a ceasefire and peace agreement.’
If each P can view the conflict through the hard geopolitical lens of ‘realism’, then a settlement zone theoretically exists between:
- The minimum H will accept in order to achieve its practical, i.e. realizable, political objectives; and
- The maximum the invaded state will give in order to survive, i.e. to avoid becoming a FS.
Provided each P understands this, then a deal can be done, because continuation of armed conflict increases the existential threat to each state, and there is the constant peril of a nuclear war starting by accident. If the P’s agree that mutual survival is preferable to mutual destruction, which will have environmental consequences beyond the territory in which war is being waged, then pre-conditions to a ceasefire can be agreed to enable talks to take place in good faith. The table can then be set for a mediation. An agenda, and the scope, terms, and protocols for mediation can be discussed and agreed.
Therefore, whether and when a mediation will take place, ultimately depends upon the existence of political will on both sides.
See also my blog below – ‘Engineering Convergence through Mediation – Can we put the Genie back into the bottle?’
3rd Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Exploratory talks to identify elements of a bespoke process
‘Only when we can fully participate in a democratic process will armed struggle become obsolete, and only then will the conflict between us end.’
(Words attributed to Thabo Mbeki during secret talks held in England between the African National Congress (ANC), the political party spearheading the independence movement, and the South African Government. These took place in a series of clandestine meetings over several years in the late 1980’s which were set up by Michael Young an executive with Consolidated Goldfields, a British mining company which had a commercial stake in the future political stability of South Africa).
Potential elements of a bespoke process of mediation?:
- Transformative Mediation – To enable each Participant [‘P‘] to re-evaluate their Political Doctrine [‘PD‘], objectives and priorities (see my blogs below: (i) ‘Engineering Convergence through Mediation – Can we put the Genie back into the bottle?’ (where I use the acronym ‘PND’ to describe P’s nuclear doctine); and (ii) ‘Fiduciary Principles of International Relations’).
- Restorative Justice – As a long-term peace and reconciliation process that as it becomes culturally embedded over generations reduces the risk of another conflict.
[Please note that each armed conflict is unique, and requires the design of a bespoke mediation process. This blog is an unfinished and evolving work in progress and I welcome all comments and contributions].
Transformative Mediation: A Self-Assessment (psu.edu)
The War in Ukraine: Lessons for Mediators – Mediate.com
2nd Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Choice of Mediator [‘M’]
To discover the existence of common ground, which may contain hidden value that has the potential to expand the political and economic pie for settlement, the M and Participants [‘P’s’] need to look beyond the conflict at:
- the impact/potential impact of the conflict upon the political and economic stability of globally inter-connected economic systems and institutions [‘GIECS’], and because climate change is a universal existential threat, this includes the ‘environment’; and
- the political stability of states and interested non-state actors, e.g. multi-national companies, whose prosperity and existence depends upon the stability and preservation of GIECS (including the environment) [‘IP’s’].
In a multi-polar world, the M and P’s, therefore, need to understand the wider impact of the conflict upon the stability of e.g. economic systems (in which hegemons are heavily invested i.e. the US and China). A political leader/state elite, who is either a P, ally of a P, or M, by viewing the conflict through a global, rather than a regional lens, may be able to identify strands of common ground which can cohere, to form a foundation for the negotiation of a peace protocol and agreement, i.e. because in a globalized and inter-connected world, the conflict is not only existential to the P’s at war with each other, but also to those who depend upon the stability of the GIECS, i.e. the IP’s – who all have a vested interest in peace. That is why M must be both a trained mediator, and an independent, educated, and experienced, geo-political thinker.
A political leader who views the conflict through a narrow/populist/partisan/ideological prism, i.e. because they do not have these qualities, risks throwing petrol onto the fire instead of finding a way to extinguish the flames. Rhetoric is no substitute for brains, knowledge, experience, clear thinking, realism, diplomatic skill, and economic/political nouse.
Impact of Conflict and Political Instability on Banking Crises in Developing Economies – IMF Blog
1st Principle of Humanitarian Mediation – Diplomats must have room to manoeuvre
The 1st Principle of Humanitarian Mediation is that ‘Diplomats must have room to manoeuvre’ in order to exert an influence upon the course of events before the ‘creature’ of war takes on its own life, resulting in events outside the imagination and control of the states involved.
Professor John J. Mearsheimer, in the introduction to the 60th anniversary edition of ‘American Diplomacy’ by George F. Kennan [University of Chicago Press (2012)], states [between pages xl – xlii]:
‘[W]hen mass armies clash with each other, the result, as Carl von Clausewitz put it is, “primordial violence, hatred and enmity.” [Carl von Clausewitz on War, trans. and ed. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 89.].
This kind of hostility almost guarantees that each side will be so enraged with the other that it will demand decisive victory and refuse a compromise settlement. This state of affairs is compounded by the fact that governments usually have to motivate their publics to make enormous sacrifices to win a great power war. Most importantly, some substantial number of citizens has to be convinced to serve in the military and possibly die for their country. One way that leaders inspire their people to fight modern wars is to portray the adversary as the epitome of evil and a mortal threat. This behaviour, it should be noted, is not limited to democracies as Kennan thought. Doing so, however, makes it almost impossible to negotiate an end to a war short of total victory. After all, how can one negotiate with an adversary that is thought to be the devil incarnate? It makes much more sense to pull out every punch to decisively defeat that opponent and get it to surrender unconditionally. Of course, both sides are invariably drawn to this conclusion, which rules out any hope of a negotiated compromise. … [Clausewitz’s] classic work, “On War”, is actually an attempt to grasp the concept of modern, absolute war in all its devastating power… The main purpose of Clausewitz’s famous dictum “war is an extension of politics by other means” is to convince civilian leaders that they should go to great lengths to limit wars when it makes good political sense, while recognising that war’s natural tendency in the age of nationalism is to escalate to its absolute or total form. These same forces were at play in World War I, which is why all of the great powers involved in that conflict – democracies as well as non-democracies – were committed to fighting until they collapsed or hopefully the other side collapsed first. In short, nationalism, not democracy, fuels the modern state’s desire for decisive victories and unconditional surrender, aspirations that make it difficult to limit wars between rival great powers.’
That is why Mediation is not possible where a participant [‘P’] requires the destruction of the other P, see my blog below – ‘Engineering convergence through Mediation – Can we put the Genie back into the bottle?’
Engineering Convergence through Mediation – Can we put the Genie back into the bottle?
At the King’s College London School of Security Studies Annual Conference on the 8th and 9th June 2022, I asked a question related to my evolving research interest in ‘Transforming Geo-Political Conflict Through Mediation’ – See the International Relations essay on the ‘Mediation of Art & Cultural Heritage Disputes’ page at www.carlislam.co.uk.
My Q. ‘Is understanding what lies underneath competing narratives [‘N’] the key to mediation of a peace process in a conflict?’
i.e. can analysis of N reveal:
(i) the philosophy and political doctrine driving a conflict on each side; and
(ii) psychological biases which are road-blocks in geo-political mediation?
Answer: I drew the following conclusions from the comments made by the speakers in reply:
(i) Mediation is not possible where a participant [‘P’] requires the destruction of the other P, i.e. when the values and interests underlying N collide [‘C’].
(ii) Mediation is possible where they potentially overlap and can cohere.
(iii) Where a P is a nuclear power [‘PN’], the use of nuclear weapons is a very real potential outcome in C – one speaker thought this was almost an ‘inevitability’ (which is what Professor John Mearsheimer has been warning since 2014 and as recently as May 2022).
(iv) However, since the use of nuclear weapons by PN could result in its own destruction, if PN’s doctrine is to change the hegemonic world order, i.e. to displace the West [‘PND]’, then mediation is possible.
(v) The military logic of PND is that when PN realises it is losing on the battlefield it will agree to a halt in lethal fighting. However, the conflict will not end until the aggressor has won in accordance with its PND. Therefore, unless a lasting peace is achieved in the interim, the fighting will at some future point in time resume, i.e. when PN, in its mind, is ready and prepared to win.
(vi) When the P’s are in the mood to talk Mediation is possible.
(vii) Because of the logic of PND, the war in Ukraine is likely to be the 1st of many conflicts to arise across the globe. In other words, things are going to get worse.
(viii) Because Russia [‘R‘] is a nuclear power, the West [‘W‘] cannot simply liberate it.
(ix) Because: (a) the claims made by R reveal value driven ‘choices made by the Russian State elite’; and (b) the elite is more than one man, PND will not change unless and until the elite alter their ‘collective’ thinking i.e. Political Doctrine [‘PD‘].
If analysis of R‘s narrative has exposed a ‘divergence based upon values’ then what can W do to avoid further divergence, i.e. through smart Diplomacy?
A concluding remark made by one speaker was that there is a lack of understanding amongst policy makers that ‘how politicians behave domestically can impact upon foreign relations’ – i.e. because other states are watching. Therefore, in order to have any effect upon the future direction and shape of R‘s PD, our senior political leaders need to be seen to be ‘whiter than white’ – not least because any divergence by a W government from strict adherence to international law reinforces R‘s narrative that W is hypocritical and duplicitous.
This lack of ‘credibility’ impacts upon the stability of an ‘antithetical’ model of ‘offensive realism’ (i.e. a counter-thesis) that is based upon the idea of ‘solidarity’ between states which is rooted in fiduciary principles and norms of behaviour under International Humanitarian Law. This idea lies at the heart of my research, i.e. whether ‘universal ethical values’:
(i) exist under International Humanitarian Law (‘IHL’) as ‘core fiduciary principles and norms’; and
(ii) are potential building blocks, in the Mediation of a peace process, protocol, and agreement,
where the primary causal factor in a geo-political conflict, is a clash between competing values and interests.
However logically, the concept is a grand ‘delusion’, unless every other state with whom W competes shares the same worldview as W. Therefore, before undertaking a step in Mediation W needs to first see the world through P‘s eyes. If W views the world through a rose-tinted geo-political lens, it will be looking inwards and not outward, in which case the outcome is likely to be strategic miscalculation, i.e. if the result is a mischaracterization of N by W, because W either: (i) does not understand N; or (ii) does not believe that N is real, actually exists in the psychology of P, and therefore is deeply embedded in PND. This incongruence dooms Mediation from the start, because W cannot even see where the ‘rails’ of the underlying and causal political dispute actually are, let alone the direction in which the train is going. Therefore, what W does can only halt the train by accident and not by design. Far worse, W can derail the train – which could be catastrophic for all on board. That is why it is a cardinal principle of any Mediation that the Mediator must not make the situation worse. This principle applies to the Mediation of a geo-political conflict no less than it applies to a civil dispute.
Can IHL bring warring P‘s together in an ‘offensive realism’ paradigm? Where institutionally, the destruction of Cultural Heritage by an invading P is an act of political self-destruction, i.e. because they share a common Cultural Heritage, then logically, that is a choice the aggressor is compelled to make, because political miscalculation risks making it weaker and not stronger as a result of the invasion.
Ukraine – Who can mediate?
As Jonathan Powell (who runs Inter Mediate in London) wrote in ‘Talking To Terrorists – How to end armed conflicts’ (2014), ‘Of course it is possible to mishandle a peace process just like any other political act, but that is no reason for not having a peace process. … President Kennedy captured the conundrum well: “A willingness to resist force, unaccompanied by a willingness to talk, could provoke belligerence – while a willingness to talk, unaccompanied by an willingness to resist force, could invite disaster.” … So the successful equation in dealing with serious terrorist groups is to combine military pressure down with the offer of a political way out through talks which can, over time, lead to an end to the armed conflict. …. That does not mean to say that it is sensible to plunge into a full-blown negotiation straightaway … Rather it means that we should try to learn from past experience how best to make contact with such groups, how to build trust, how to combine force and talking, how to use third parties, how and when to turn the contacts into negotiations, how to bring those negotiations to a successful conclusion, and how to ensure the resulting agreement is implemented, so that we don’t keep on making the same mistakes.’ If these principles apply to the invasion of a sovereign state by another state actor, then, Mediation is a tool for resolving armed conflict through politics and economics. Therefore, the question is when and how to talk to Russia.
‘Whether mediation is undertaken by an international organization, State, or an NGO, any peace process needs an individual to lead the effort. … However, a Head of state, Foreign Minister, or Secretary General is likely to be too busy with other things to be able to concentrate sufficiently on a mediation process that lasts more than a few days. They may also lack the willingness to get their hands dirty with detailed strategizing and planning, doing hands-on negotiations with non-state actors, listening to civil society, conducting shuttle diplomacy, and managing a mediation team. Often, they lack the expertise required for a professional mediation effort. They may also be too closely associated with one or more parties, particularly if the dispute is in a neighbouring state. … It is therefore important to select a dedicated and professional mediator to do the work, whether implicitly in the name of a Government or Secretary General, or explicitly as a special envoy, personal representative, or the like. The separation between the two hierarchical levels can also be used to advance the negotiations, for instance by calling on involvement of the highest level at crucial moments, to increase pressure on the parties.’ (Negotiating Peace – A Guide To The practice, Politics, And Law of International Mediation’, by Sven M.G.Koopmans, 2018) Oxford University Press, paragraph 3.4.1. Could Turkey (which is a NATO member state) mediate between Russia and Ukraine?
The War in Ukraine: Lessons for Mediators – Mediate.com
Turkey’s Mediation of a Ukrainian Grain Export Plan May Bear Fruit | The National Interest
Putin thanks Erdoğan for mediating Ukraine grain exports | Daily Sabah
Kremlin thanks Turkey for mediation efforts over Ukraine war | Daily Sabah
Is Peace Mediation in Ukraine Possible, and How? | Conciliation Resources (c-r.org)
Universality of values: Cultural dimension of geopolitical competition
‘Universality of values: Cultural dimension of geopolitical competition Event’ Conference Talks 14.1.2022 organised by the European External Action Service – The presentations broadcast from: Europe; China; and India, were insightful and provided much food for thought. I think that the recognition and promulgation of universal values, possibly enshrined in an emboldened code of international law norms and standards of behaviour is linked to cultural heritage diplomacy (i.e. as bridge building and so much more). I will be writing a paper in 2022 for my Art Law Diploma course at IAL’s about ‘Practical Ethics in the mediation of art and cultural heritage disputes.’ This will include discussion of the nexus between: (i) cultural heritage law; (ii) human rights; (iii) the moral case for restitution; (iv) norms of behaviour under international law; (v) multi-lateral Cultural Heritage Diplomacy; and (vi) Humanitarian Mediation.
As far as I am aware, there is no fiduciary doctine of custodianship, protection, and preservation in relation to cultural heritage under English law. Whether such a doctine is desirable is a controversial subject, however there do appear to be fiduciary policies in e.g. Italy. For more information please visit the ‘Mediation of Art and Cultural Heritage Disputes’ page of my website (www.ihtbar.com), or just Google ‘Mediation of Art Disputes.’
Meanwhile, for my research, if anybody reading this post has any academic papers relating to the above, please email them to me at email@example.com.