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Evaluation of the mediation support unit standby team of mediation experts

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Executive Summary

In April 2009, the UN Secretary General underlined the centrality of the UN in providing mediation and mediation support in his report on enhancing mediation and its support activities. The Mediation Support Unit (MSU) within the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) serves as a central pillar to enhance and guide mediation efforts.

Background of the MSU SBT

The Mediation Support Unit (MSU) Standby Team of Mediation Experts (SBT) project was established in April 2007. The project was originally solely funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and based upon a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United Nations and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). In the second year of the project, the European Commission also provided financial support to the team.

The Standby Team of Mediation Experts is a specialised resource which can be rapidly deployed to the field upon a temporary basis in order to provide technical advice to UN officials and others leading mediation and conflict prevention efforts. The SBT is managed by both the UN MSU and the NRC to allow for flexible and rapid deployment, as well as to provide a degree of autonomy to the experts.

SBT members are contracted full-time for a period of 12 months, thus at disposal fully and at all times, and on standby to be deployed within 72 hours for up to one month (renewable) to a specific location.

Purpose and Methodology of the Evaluation

NRC initiated the external evaluation in consultation with MSU. After a tender was published in summer 2010, Dr Oliver Wils (Berghof Peace Support) and Dr Antje Herrberg (MediatEUr) were chosen for this task.

The evaluation aimed at contributing to the improvement of mediation support services through taking stock of the lessons learned of the SBT project and recommendations for improved practice. The evaluation was based upon the OECD criteria of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability and focused upon three main areas:

1) Management and support of the SBT project including co-operation and co-ordination between the NRC and the MSU/UNDPA.

2) Outcome of the mediation support to a mediation effort provided by the members of the Standby Team when deployed to the field.

3) Conceptual development of the SBT project.

During September and October 2010, the evaluation team conducted extensive desk research of background material provided by the NRC including all end-of-mission reports, statistics, contractual documents, relevant notes, memoranda and written communication as well as management documents from the MSU. The team conducted 40 background discussions and interviews with key stakeholders to the SBT project in Oslo and New York as well as by telephone and Skype. A draft evaluation report was submitted at the end of November and the findings were presented to NRC and MSU in Oslo on 15 December 2010.