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Explore research on the use of mediation as a tool to prevent mass atrocities.

Overview of the Evidence on Mediation

Our research review includes 59 reports: 2 that address the effects of mediation on mass atrocities and 58 that address the effects of mediation on closely related outcomes, such as civilian killings, human rights violations, and conflict recurrence. It found the following:

  • A mix of findings as to whether mediation was effective in helping prevent mass atrocities or closely-related outcomes, and 
  • Relatively strong evidence on the association of the following two design factors with greater effectiveness of mediation in helping prevent mass atrocities:
    • International support or coordination: There is a high degree of international support for the mediation and/or the implementer coordinates with other international actors.
    • Implementer has strong leverage: The mediation implementer (1) has a significant degree of relative power in the international system, (2) is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, or (3) has significant leverage over the conflict parties.

About Mediation


Mediation is “a process of conflict management where disputants seek the assistance of, or accept an offer of help from, an individual, group, state or organization to settle their conflict or resolve their differences without resorting to physical force or invoking the authority of law” (Bercovitch et al. 1991, p. 8).

Theory of Change

If mediation helps prevent or end an armed conflict, it would reduce the likelihood of mass atrocities because armed conflict is the strongest risk factor for mass atrocities (Bellamy 2011; Straus 2016).

Strategies This Tool Can Support

(1) Dissuading potential perpetrators from committing mass atrocities
(2) Facilitating leadership or political transition