Sharper appreciation of mediation’s potential as promising, cost-effective tool for conflict prevention, peace accords, implementation, says Secretary-General
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the General Assembly informal event on United Nations mediation, 9 November, in New York:
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to the President of the General Assembly for convening this informal meeting. I also thank the President of the General Assembly for making the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes one of the priorities of this General Assembly session.
Prevention through mediation is also one of the five imperatives I highlighted in my address to the Assembly last September. It will be a cornerstone of our work in the coming five years.
Today’s meeting marks the continuation of intensive consultations on the topic of mediation. When I began my tenure as Secretary-General, I observed that there was much room for improvement in investing in our mediation capacity.
Today, I am pleased to note how far we have come in recognizing mediation as an invaluable tool for conflict management and resolution. We have made advances in enhancing our capacity and in establishing effective partnerships with regional organizations and civil society. Today, we are able to offer more consistent and professional support to complex peacemaking processes, whether undertaken by the United Nations or its partners. With the support of the General Assembly, we have strengthened the Department of Political Affairs to better respond to opportunities to resolve crisis, including through the use of mediation. Our envoys and field missions are on the front lines of these efforts, backed by the increasing expertise at our disposal.
In 2010, for example, the Mediation Support Unit of the Department of Political Affairs provided operational support to 20 mediation, facilitation and dialogue processes. Some of these are formal third-party mediation, as in Western Sahara and our joint work with the African Union on the Darfur peace process. Others involved a facilitation role, such as our work in Cyprus. In a handful of instances, we supported national and local mediators attempting to bring conflicting parties to the table. The Central African Republic, Lesotho and Liberia are all cases in point. At other times, we provided support through our regional offices, mediating in intra-State processes. This occurred, for example, in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Niger – as well as in inter-State processes, such as in Central Asia on water-sharing.
Whatever form it takes, we have a sharper appreciation of the potential of mediation as a promising and cost-effective tool to prevent disputes from escalating into armed conflict, to support conflicting parties in making better peace agreements, and to accompany them in implementing these agreements.
As we look ahead, this year’s General Assembly resolution on “strengthening the role of mediation” points us in the right direction. The resolution also encourages us to further promote the participation of women in the peaceful settlement of disputes. This is absolutely crucial and I am strongly committed to doing my full part. I commend the General Assembly and the Security Council for their vital role in guiding our efforts towards a more comprehensive approach to conflict management. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the Friends of Mediation, a group of Member States and regional organizations. In particular, Finland and Turkey, the co-chairs of the group, have been instrumental.
The General Assembly has requested me to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution and to develop guidance for more effective mediation. I intend to hold broad consultations with Member States, regional organizations and civil society. We hope to learn from the expertise of mediators, from the experience of the beneficiaries of successful mediation processes, and also from those who have suffered from failed mediation attempts. This meeting is thus very timely. I look forward to continuing to work closely with all of you on this vital subject. Thank you.
For information media • not an official record