When you start paying attention to questions like the ones above, you start seeing some interesting trends.
For example, the number of conflict diads
, where two or more parties are at war, that have been mediated hasn't increased – it's been steady. A single peace process can end up with a number of peace agreements that've been implemented (or failed) separately.
The UN and the international community have been taking on a much larger role in war termination and peacemaking efforts over the last few decades, with a marked uptick in negotiated endings to conflict since the Second World War. The UN is still the most active mediator, followed closely by the US, and then the African Union, Russia, France, Norway, the UK, Kenya, Malaysia
These days, mediation happens more in Africa and Europe than in the Americas, Asia or the Middle East.
To define some important terms, peacemaking
is a "range of political and diplomatic activities intended to halt ongoing conflicts. The process of settling an armed conflict, where conflict parties are induced to reach agreement voluntarily to end a conflict."Peace agreements
are considered "formal, documented agreements between parties to a violent conflict to establish a ceasefire altogether with new political and legal structures." These could take different shapes, like a regular ceasefire, comprehensive agreements, partial agreements or implementation agreements.
There are many different actors involved in peace negotiations, with the two parties to the conflict usually being at the table. This isn't always the case, though, like when Afghan negotiations took place in Germany and left out the Taliban. Other actors can include local and international NGOs, third-party governments, the UN, donors, the World Bank, diplomats and other envoys.
Then there are the ones who are doing the behind-the-scenes work: trying to bring people to the table, shuttling people to and from peace talks (sometimes from the jungle), providing venues, paying the bills, even picking menu items or agonizing over seating arrangements.
Third party actors who do this can be big organizations like the Carter Center
(founded by former US president Jimmy Carter) or the Crisis Management Initiative
. Powerful diplomats are often involved, like the American George Mitchell, who assisted in the Irish crisis, or the Norwegian Jan Egeland, who worked with Israel and Palestine. Smaller actors like religious leaders, community hands or other groups can also be active in the negotiation or mediation processes.
One way of classifying the different initiatives in a peace process is a model known as the Tracks of Diplomacy