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  • Maria Beatriz Campos

The Use of International Mediation in Conflict Resolution: the case of the Soviet Union in 1966

Updated: Feb 7

*Este material, seus resultados e conclusões são de responsabilidade dos autores e não representam, de qualquer maneira, a posição institucional da Fundação Getulio Vargas / FGV Direito Rio ou do FGV Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on EU-South America Global Governance.

The present article illustrates the profitable use of mediation in terms of international conflicts resolutions. It aims to observe the reasons why two parties in a negation process opt to establish a third-party intervention - who will guide them to a better outcome. This document comments as well about the performance of Power in the scenario of a mediation, considering that the mediator is a figure that heavily influences the behaviours, thoughts, and speeches of both parties involved. After these perceptions, this article will approach a specific international conflict which was resolved by the mediation: the Soviet mediation guiding India and Pakistan’s agreements in terms of claiming the Kashmir in 1966.


It is relevant to the article’s understanding that other types of Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) could be mentioned, such as arbitration and conciliation[1] and each one of them presents their particularities. ADRs illustrate a scenario of elucidating and clarifying conflicting issues between two parties and, consequently, offer the conversion and transformation of a problem. It is essential to mention that such mechanisms are outside the legal scope, since their emergence occurred due to the need for negotiation facilities in the commercial sphere. Thus, these alternatives have become present mainly in private law - in commercial relations - and currently extend to property issues. ADRs have become a prioritized option, since the groups involved in negotiating conflicts could find a solution involving only their own initiative, thus avoiding the inefficient intervention of the State[2].

Arbitration, for instance, is considered appropriate to be used in cases where there is a process which already exists between the parties – a commercial contract would be an example. In these cases, there is the need of an external expert who can provide a better or a new perspective on how the parties can interpret and apply their arguments. One of the main differences that can be established between a mediator and an arbitrator is their formality and how they behave towards the parties. An arbitrator is often seen as a support in decision-making, once they influence directly the parties’ will. Alternatively, the mediator acts exclusively as a facilitator in communication and establishing the fluidity of the negotiation process, in these terms, this figure has no decision authority and stands as a neutral third-party.

The chart above can be found in Menkel-Meadow, C.J. (2018) Alternative Dispute Resolution. rep. MPEiPro.(page 5)

The chart presented above introduces other Alternative Dispute Resolutions procedures and their particular characteristics. It is possible to verify whether there is a role of a third-party and, specifically, how they act – as a decisional figure or as a facilitative. Besides, an important aspect to observe is the presence or absence of the rule of law, since the majority of ADRs are not influenced by the force of law. However, when they are, it plays a significant role.

1. Mediation as an ADR

The previously introduction illustrated some options that could be used in scenarios of third-party cases. Moreover, the continuality of this article will mainly focus on mediation specifically and how it can be observed in daily life situation. When facing a tough situation, it is possible that the parties involved are not able to reach an agreement. In this sense, mediation acts as a third-party intervenor whose purpose is contributing to a cordial and diplomatic resolution through the negotiation that had been in course[3]. In addition, it is significant to mention that a negotiator’s goal is not to please a certain party or determines their fate in the negotiation. However, the negotiator is meanly involved with supporting a peaceful communication, easing the interchange of suitable information, and avoiding any misunderstandings between both parties, which can lead to damaging a healthy relationship. Having said this, it is important to bear in mind that this representative is established to remain as an indifferent party to the topics in discussion. Another point that should be mentioned is the legitimation of the mediator figure – it comes directly from the goal of conflict reduction, which they typically proclaim[4]. This aspect is directly connected to the element Power, previously mentioned. And will be the following topic of discussion.

According to the words of Zartman and Douval (1985), the mediator is able to offer a way out of the negotiation through two methods: either by introducing the parties to innovative and attractive ideas, which will be naturally accepted by them and finally lead to a beneficial agreement; or, on the other hand, the mediator can use unattractive and considered non-favourable ideas under a different perspective or by adding new arguments to them. This condition of being able to choose which approach to use is one of the examples that illustrates the influence the mediator holds to conduct the negotiation process.

In spite of the mediator being the holder of the direction taken during the negotiation process, it is decisive to keep in mind that outcome of the mediation is up to the parties involved. This line is extremely thin, so the mediator must be moderate. The mediator is aware that both parties have a stake in winning, while they need to find a balance between both interests. Although it is important to understand the role of the mediator and how it is developed, this article presents a real case scenario where it was essential to solve an international conflict how the Soviet Union performed as a mediator between India and Pakistan in 1966.

2. The Soviet Union mediation of a conflict between India and Pakistan

In 1947, the Kashmir conflict was established between India and Pakistan, a conflict which violated several human rights. Initially, this area was under the domination of British colonies for more than seventy years. However, since the colonizers left the Asian continent, the Kashmir area remained apportioned between India and Pakistan. One of the main reasons why the conflict stood for these many years is how each country considered each other, it means, they viewed each other only through negative lens[5]. In one hand, Indians considered Pakistanis as ‘Muslims’, ‘raiders’, ‘terrorists’, ‘anti-Indian’, ‘lifelong enemies. Alternatively, Pakistani people considered Indians as ‘non-Muslims’, ‘occupiers’, ‘imperialists’, ‘anti-Muslim’, ‘eternal enemies’[6],

There were doubts regarding the possible support provided by the Soviet Union, considering that it was, previously, an Indian ally. In this sense, Pakistan representatives at the time reported that they would refuse the Soviet mediation offer because the good intentions suggest by USSR only imply an aid to the Indian aggressors and, the final result would benefit India in gaining the Kashmir region.

In spite of this scenario, the Soviet UN Security Council voted for a cease-fire resolution in this area; this action would prove an American-Soviet union which goal was to give the Kashmir conflict an efficient solution.[7] The Soviet Union recognized the reasons why each nation was willing to keep Kashmir as their own. Firstly, Pakistan was interested in its adherence due to the predominance of Muslim areas, while India this land represented a state that included both Muslims and Hindus.

In 1965, the Kashmir area received a war between both countries in order to decide its owner and that was when the Soviet Union fully intervened in the discussion as a mediator. As the process was being developed, a tripartite summit was held in Tashkent in January 1966, attended by India, Pakistan, and Soviet’s representatives. During the reunion, among several options and alternatives, the most suitable was a withdrawal of forces to the lines in war, in this sense, the parties agreed to this position. However, in spite of the successful result in forbidding war exercises, the mediation was mainly useful to assist the Soviet Union in asserting a leading role in the Kashmir area. Another important outcome is how the relationship between the USSR and India was straightened and Pakistan’s relation with the Soviet Union was highly improved.


To sum up, it is necessary is to bear in mind how the mediation and its third-party act like a fundamental role in resolving conflicts. The example explained – Indian vs Pakistan – illustrates perfectly how the mediator enters a relation subtly in order to manage all interests involved. It is important to emphasise tough that the Soviet Union was previously an Indian ally, nonetheless it did not intervene its capacity to deal with the dispute. In this perspective, this behaviour portrays how neutral and unbiased a mediator figure show act.


[1] Menkel-Meadow, C.J. (2018) Alternative Dispute Resolution. rep. MPEiPro. [2] Tartuce, F. (2018) Mediação nos Conflitos Civis. 4th edn. São Paulo: Editora Método. [3] Zartman, W. and Douval, S. (1985) International Mediation: Conflict Resolution and Power Politics. thesis. [4] Zartman, W. and Douval, S. (1985) International Mediation: Conflict Resolution and Power Politics. thesis. [5] Bhat, S.A. (2019) The Kashmir conflict and human rights, Sage Journals. Available at: [6] Bhat, S.A. (2019) The Kashmir conflict and human rights, Sage Journals. Available at: [7] Simon, S.W. (1967) The Kashmir Dispute in Sino-Soviet Perspective. thesis. University of California Press.

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