The new issue of The Journal of Politics is out, and UNC Assistant Prof Stephen Gent has an article in it (with Megan Shannon). The abstract:
Scholars and policymakers argue that the bias of a third party affects its ability to resolve conflicts. In an investigation of international territorial claims, however, we find that the conflict management technique is much more important for ending disputes than a third party’s level of bias. Binding third-party mechanisms (arbitration and adjudication) more effectively end territorial claims than other conflict management techniques because they provide legality, increased reputation costs, and domestic political cover. The characteristics of the third party, on the other hand, have no effect on the success of a settlement attempt. Bias plays only an indirect role in conflict resolution, as territorial rivals generally turn to unbiased intermediaries to broker binding negotiations. We conclude that impartial third-party conflict management does not directly lead to successful negotiations. Rather, disputants favor unbiased third parties to broker the types of talks most likely to end international disputes.
This isn't really my area of expertise, so I have no substantive comment, but I did want to highlight Stephen's work which is always excellent. I don't see an ungated version (Stephen, if you're out there put something up so I can link to it!), but here is a Washington Post article on some of his previous research.