Nationality, Ethical Standards, Culture, George Mitchell, Lakhdar Brahimi, Mediation, Mediators


This Comment examines how a mediator’s nationality can influence the mediating parties’ and communities’ perceptions of his neutrality and how cultural differences play a role in the ethical expectations of a cross-cultural mediator. Part I discusses the role of neutrality in cross-cultural mediation and how neutrality is required and interpreted by codified ethical standards for mediators in the United States and in several international organizations. Part II discusses the role of culture in mediation, how culture influences ethical expectations, and the case studies of George Mitchell, a mediator in Ireland and Israel-Palestine, and Lakhdar Brahimi, a mediator in Syria. Mitchell and Brahimi are examples of mediators who worked with cultures that had different ethical expectations of the mediator’s role than they were accustomed to in their respective cultures. They both resigned in frustration and experienced great difficulty and public ridicule during their terms. Part III analyzes Mitchell and Brahimi’s trials and failures in their mediations, and provides suggestions for mediators involved in cross-cultural mediations. Through this analysis this Comment clarifies the role of neutrality in mediation and how a mediator’s nationality influences how mediating parties and their communities perceive his neutrality.

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