Under what conditions does conflict resolution fail? This article identifies several undertheorized factors hindering conflict resolution. It argues that structural bias, inadequate leverage and a polarized mediation format render negotiations ineffective, undermining the peace process. Durable peace settlements are unlikely when mediators become parties to the conflict, patronize the rebels, shape the domestic politics of the parent-states, and promote resolution plans advancing their security interests. The concepts of structural bias and polarized mediation are further explored by employing a structured focused comparison of the conflict management strategies in Transnistria (Moldova) and Donbas (Ukraine). The comparative examination revealed that Russia, as a power mediator, displayed a structural bias towards the rebel side but lacked sufficient leverage to impose a settlement on both parties. It attempted to increase its influence over Ukraine by getting entangled in the Donbas conflict, recognizing the secessionist regions and launching a conventional war against Kyiv.
Marandici, I. (2023). Structural bias, polarized mediation and conflict resolution failure: a comparative examination of the disputes in Transnistria and Donbas. Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea, 23(1), 89–113. https://doi.org/10.1080/14683857.2022.2101188
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