Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


This dissertation examines why the Vatican as a global religious organization and the smallest state in the world is able to successfully mediate some difficult and intractable conflicts while it fails to do so in other cases. Drawing from the New Liberalism theory in International Relations, the mediation theory and the literature on the Vatican as a player in world affairs, it suggests the important role of the Vatican's institutions at both the global and local level, besides its spiritual and moral leverage. The method, which combines a longitudinal analysis, a process tracing procedure and a comparative analysis, is used to examine multiple cases (N-cases) as well as tests the hypotheses on three particular cases in which the Vatican intervened as an official mediator or not: (1) the Beagle Channel dispute between Argentina and Chile solved in 1984; (2) the U.S. - Cuba long confrontation which resulted with a diplomatic deal in 2014, and (3) the Ecuador - Peru conflict which ended in 1998. The findings show in particular, (1) the crucial role of a third party in the mediation structure, (2) the importance of the religious factor, namely the Catholic identity expressed in the Church-State relationship which shapes the relationship between the mediator and the disputants, (3) the decisive role of the local church in the Vatican's whole diplomatic structure, a fact not always recognized. By and large, the study contributes to explain the influence of transnational religious organizations such as the Vatican in international affairs through the lens of their foreign policy and diplomacy which are important areas that has received little attention from scholars.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.