Dialogue and mediation are important tools to address conflicts in a constructive manner. These approaches are employed both the prevent and to resolve conflict, and can be put into effect before, during or following violent conflict.
As an instrument, dialogue is used to build relationships among a wide group of actors. It can be a tool to build consensus among a group or to discuss divisive issues. It is also used to extend the reach and impact of a formal process through wider participation.
Dialogue can be public, but often takes place in private and confidentially. The format can range from one conversation to initiatives that are conducted over a longer period of time. They can involve individuals, or groups of communities, for example in locally-led Peace Courts where issues are resolved through dialogue.
Mediation is another tool used to help resolve conflict and stop violence from escalating – involving bringing opposing individuals or groups together to find a solution. Mediation, often conducted by a third party, can play a crucial role in deescalating conflict and in healing wounds after division.
In a mediation, a mediator's primary role is to act as a neutral third party who facilitates discussions between the individuals or groups in dispute. Community-based reconciliation approaches often include elements of mediation.