Forms of third party intervention

There may be several third parties working a problem. For example, in Kosovo you may find the United Nations, OSCE, KFOR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe, EULEX, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with aspects of the same problem.

Different approaches

Third parties may have different approaches based on their organizational purpose and mandate. For example, during the 1990’s OSCE and European Union monitors worked on implementation of the peace accord between the government of Macedonia and ethnic Albanians, while NATO’s Task Force Fox had the mission of providing protection for the monitors.

Agendas and mandates

Third parties have their own agendas and mandates, and will stand by them. For example, OSCE central tasks include human rights, democracy and building the rule of law. OSCE cannot be neutral or impartial when these issues are involved.


Conciliation is sometimes called providing “Good Offices.” The third party may bring the sides together and carry messages back and forth.


Facilitation may involve acting as a moderator in a meeting, and making sure that each side is able to speak and be heard. Facilitators are not expected to offer their own ideas or actively move the parties toward agreement.


Mediation has a third party actively helping parties find a solution they cannot find by themselves.

Pure mediation involves helping parties to find their solutions, and the possible injection of ideas.

Power mediation adds to this process:

  • leverage to persuade the parties
  • positive and negative incentives to achieve an agreement
  • outside resources to monitor or implement an agreement
  • authority to advise, suggest or influence

Arbitration involves a third party with the authority to decide on an outcome to the conflict between the parties.