Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mediation: When is it time to quit?

One judgment call mediators must make is when to give up after, despite lengthy and frequent attempts to settle, parties have reached an impasse.

President George Bush - - who is said to be mediating the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, as did other U.S. Presidents before him - - commented earlier this week:

"It's essential that people understand, America cannot dictate the terms of what a state will look like," he added. "The only way to have lasting peace, the only way for an agreement to mean anything is for the two parties to come together and make the difficult choices, but we'll help and we want to help." (NYT, A8, 1/10/08).

Without commenting on the geopolitical aspects of President Bush's comments, please offer your opinion on when it is appropriate for a mediator to "call it a day" and declare an end to his/her attempts to help parties settle a dispute. I will use these comments in an article I am working on and will be glad to give you attribution if you wish.