Local mediation is a conflict resolution process that involves people from the community with a stake in the outcome of the dispute. Local mediators can be trusted by community members and are often able to reach a more comprehensive settlement than an outsider. They can also serve as a bridge to regional and international peace processes.
Many court-sponsored and privately run community mediation programs rely on trained volunteer mediators who are members of the community they serve. They may be professionals in other fields, such as law enforcement, health care, education, business, human resources, non-profit, or community development. They are also people who have experienced the effects of conflict in their own lives and want to be part of a solution.
These local mediators, sometimes called insider mediators, have credibility with conflict participants and can facilitate dialogue on a village, sub-regional or country level. This type of informal mediation is often more effective than track-1 peace mediation conducted by outsiders, because it can address local context specific issues and build trust between actors that is not always possible at a global level.
However, it is important that any conflict mediations be designed with both the local community and the peace process in mind. Peacekeeping operations should assess whether short-term investments in local mediation can contribute to more durable peace and should tailor their engagement based on informed strategic decisions. For example, in some contexts involving sectarian or ethnic violence, local mediation can help prevent escalation of conflict and facilitate the inclusion of proscribed communities in national peace processes.