1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mediation

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MEDIATION (Lat. medius, middle), in the international sense, the intervention of a third power, on the invitation or with the consent of two other powers, for the purpose of arranging differences between the latter without recourse to war. Mediation may also take place after war has broken out, with a view to putting an end to it on terms. In either case the mediating power negotiates on behalf of the parties who invoke or accept its aid, but does not go farther. Unlike an arbitrating power the mediator limits his intervention to suggestion and advice. His action is liable to be arrested at any time at the will of either party unless otherwise agreed, in which case to arrest it prematurely would be a breach of good faith. The difference between mediation and arbitration may be stated in the words of the Digest (lib. iv. tit. 8, § 13): “Recepisse autem arbitrium videtur, ut ait Pedius, qui judicis partes suscepit finemque se sua sentential controversiis impositurum pollicetur. Quod si hactenus intervenit ut experiretur an concilio suo vel auctoritate discuti litem paterentur, non videtur arbitrium recepisse.”

Some writers distinguish mediation from “good offices,” but the distinction is of little practical value. We may, if we please, regard “good offices” as inchoate mediation, and “mediation” as good offices brought to the births. Thus we may say that a third power renders “good offices” when it brings the parties together so as to make diplomatic negotiations between them possible; whilst if it takes an active part in those negotiations it becomes for the time being a mediator. The spontaneous yet successful effort made by President Roosevelt in 1905 to bring together the Russian and Japanese governments, and to secure their appointing delegates to discuss terms of peace, although not strictly mediation, was closely akin to it.

Of successful mediation in the strict sense there have been many instances: that of Great Britain, in 1825, between Portugal and Brazil; of France, in 1849-1850, when differences arose between Great Britain and Greece; of the Great Powers, in 1868-1869, when the relations of Greece and Turkey were strained to breaking-point by reason of the insurrection in Crete; of Pope Leo XIII., in 1885, between Germany and Spain in the matter of the Caroline Islands. In these cases mediation averted war. The Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the war between Chile and Peru in 1882, and that between Greece and Turkey in 1897, are instances of wars brought to a close through the mediation of neutral powers. Mediation has also been occasionally employed where differences have arisen as to the interpretation of treaties or as to the mode in which they ought to be carried out: as when Great Britain mediated between France and the United States with regard to the Treaty of Paris of the 4th of July 1830. In one case at least mediation has been successful after a proposal for arbitration had failed. In 1844, when war between Spain and Morocco was threatened by reason of the frequent raids by the inhabitants of the Rif on the Spanish settlement of Ceuta, Spain declined arbitration on the ground that her rights were too clear for argument. But both she and Morocco subsequently accepted joint mediation at the hands of Great Britain and France.

The cause of mediation was considerably advanced by the Declaration of Paris of 1856. The plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, France, Austria, Russia, Sardinia and Turkey recorded in a protocol, at the instance of Lord Clarendon, their joint wish that “ states between which any misunderstanding might arise should, before appealing to arms, have recourse so far as circumstances might allow (en tant que les circonstances l'admettraient) to the good offices of a friendly power.” Article 8 of the Treaty of Paris, concluded in the same year, stipulated that “if there should arise between the Sublime Porte and one or more of the other signing powers any misunderstanding which might endanger the maintenance of their relations, the Porte and each of such powers, before having recourse to the use of force, shall afford the other contracting parties the opportunity of preventing such as extremity, by means of mediation.” These precedents (in which it will be seen that “good offices” and “mediation” are used interchangeably) were followed in the general act agreed to at the Conference held at Berlin in 1884-1885 the object of which was to secure religious and commercial liberty and to limit warlike operations in the Congo basin.

A special form of mediation was proposed by a delegate from the United States at the Peace Conference held at the Hague in 1899, and was approved by the representatives of the powers there assembled. The clause in which this proposal was embodied provided in effect that, whenever there is danger of a rupture between two powers, each of them shall choose a third power to which these differences shall be referred, and that, pending such reference, for a period not exceeding thirty days (unless the time is extended by agreement) the powers at issue shall cease to negotiate with each other and leave the dispute entirely in the hands of the mediating powers. The powers thus appealed to occupy a position analogous to that of seconds in a duel, who are authorized to arrange an “affair of honour” between their principals. This novel device has the advantage of toning down, if not of eliminating, personal and national prejudices by which controversy is frequently embittered. It also gets over the difficulty, often met with in arbitration, of choosing a referee satisfactory to both parties. The closer the relations between states become, the more their commercial interests are intertwined, the larger the part which mediation seems destined to play. It is true that states which have accepted the intervention of a mediator remain free to adopt or reject any advice he may give, but the advice of a disinterested power must always add considerable moral weight to the side towards which it inclines.  (M. H. C.)