Mediation by Religious Leaders
by Ron Kraybill
Summary written by: Mariya Yevsyukova, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: "Mediation by Religious Leaders." MCS Conciliation Quarterly. Spring, 1988. V. 7, No. 2. P. 12.
Ron Kraybill identifies four characteristics that make international mediation by a religious person often more preferable than peacemaking initiatives offered by political figures. Those characteristics are (1) putting belief in God above loyalty to the nation. The religious person can move beyond his or her national interests toward more broad perception of human existence. Kraybill believes that a religious person has a conscience of a "global citizen." (2) A religious person brings spiritual qualities into the mediation process which include "humility, vulnerability, empathy, quiet candor, patience" (p. 12). This allows him to establish trustful relations with the parties. (3) A religious person is truly impartial; his or her agenda is the parties' well-being. (4) A religious person's powerlessness is his or her strength since it gives parties more independence in their decisions and there is more likelihood of transforming the mediation into negotiation (not requiring the presence of facilitator). The experience of John Paul Lederach in Nicaragua is a good example. Nicaraguans are distrustful of Americans after their decades of influence in the internal affairs of the country. Nicaraguans have stopped allowing Americans to be present at the table of negotiation of domestic Nicaraguan issues. However, they often made exclusions for John Paul because he was a religious person, which meant that he could be trusted.