Third Party refers to an organization or party that is neutral and helps to settle disputes between parties. As consultants, third parties can help to resolve conflicts by helping both sides to evaluate them and plan the best solution. They could also serve as mediators, facilitating productive discussions and setting agendas. There are many approaches to resolving conflicts between opposing sides. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. There are two main options: Arbitration and Mediation.
Mediators are a powerful and active third party. Mediators facilitate and sometimes enforce a process for the parties to reach mutual understanding. Many mediation methods are available, but the most common is one where the disputing parties come together to share their opinions about the nature and best way to solve it. Mediators often work to help disputants see the bigger picture and not just their original positions. Mediators can often help parties come to an agreement by clarifying the differences and reasoning behind their positions. This usually leads to a solution that suits all the parties’ interests. Some mediators have a greater role than others. However, mediators don’t have the power or authority to create a solution. An arbitrator is the most powerful third party role. The role of an arbitrator is to take in both the sides’ views and opinions, review evidence and materials, and then determine how to settle the conflict. The arbitrator’s decision can be overturned, but it is often binding. The arbitrator is therefore the most powerful intermediary. Arbitration is most effective when parties are simply looking for an agreement and don’t worry about losing control over the process or the result. Other forms of intervention may be preferred for those who want to retain control.
The three major intermediary parties are states, IGOs, and NGOs. The first states were the most powerful third party because they were considered the only valid actor in international structures. Non-state actors like IGOs or NGOs became important negotiators after World War II. Recent studies have shown that IGOs have become an even more important third party than single states.