The use of legitimate power to manipulate the mediation process (The case of EU mediation in Montenegro)

  • Vukovic, Dr Sinisa
    Johns Hopkins University, États Unis
    School of Advanced International Studies


In order to have a durable and rock-solid agreement, the third party has to have a specific leverage which would stimulate the conflicting sides to obey the rules and uphold the agreement. Leverage in mediation – the ability to move a party in an intended direction - derives from the very fact that disputing sides need mediators’ assistance in finding solutions to their problems. Legitimate power represents the influence driven by belief that the mediator has the right to prescribe behavior, and derives from a norm that has been accepted by the disputants. As experience shows, a mediation process preformed by an international organization is deemed more legitimate and bears with it higher authority than a process carried out by a state. International organizations are generally treated by contemporary scholarship as third parties that rarely employ manipulative strategies, in order to manage the dispute. The case study of EU mediation in Montenegro is unique in this sense, since it shows how legitimate power might actually be used to direct/manipulate the negotiation process in order to steer the disputants toward a mutually acceptable agreement. This case study also shows how the combination of extensive legitimacy and vague mandate turned the bargaining process into a gambling one.


International Mediation, European Union, Legitimate Power, Normative Power, Manipulative strategies

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