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Previous research has primarily focused on the EU’s high-profile involvement as direct mediator in peace negotiations. Conversely, less attention has been devoted to the EU’s support to third parties’ mediation efforts, which is a significant component of its mediation activities. Addressing this research gap, this article develops a conceptual framework for the systematic analysis of EU mediation support, identifying key mediation support techniques and the conditions for their success. In terms of mediation support techniques, the EU may rely on “endorsement”, “coordination”, “assistance”, and “lending leverage” to empower and steer third party mediators in line with its mediation objectives and values. We illustrate the utility of the conceptual framework for the EU’s support to IGAD in mediating in South Sudan’s civil war. We find that the EU has contributed significantly to IGAD’s empowerment in terms of endorsement, coordination, assistance, and lending leverage. Simultaneously, our analysis also points to important challenges in the EU-IGAD relationship, which relate to challenges concerning strategic engagement with IGAD’s internal politics that are marked by diverging interests and ties of its member states to the conflict parties.
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