Minister Haavisto (Finland)
Minister Çavuşoğlu (Turkey)
First, thank you to Finland and Turkey for hosting today’s event and for your leadership as co-chairs of the Group of Friends. I am delighted to join you to reflect on the past decade of focused attention on mediation.
Since 2001, the General Assembly has, through its four resolutions on mediation, provided the United Nations and other mediation actors with a strong normative and practical framework. These resolutions represent a collective recognition by Member States of the primacy of political solutions, and of the criticality of inclusive approaches to ending conflict.
Over the years, we have seen significant advances in the field of mediation. But we also have seen the complexity of the international, regional, and local environments within which we engage also grow.
While the number of conflicts around the world has increased, the number of peace processes or agreements has not kept pace. Meanwhile, human suffering has endured and expanded.
Geopolitical divisions, and the increased regionalization and fragmentation of conflicts, have challenged our traditional tools of conflict resolution.
A perceived failure of governance exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and rising scepticism about the multilateral system, have undermined trust and collaboration.
Technological disruption – including malicious use of social media and the rise in hate speech – fuels conflict and further complicates the work of mediators.
Libya aptly illustrates the challenges of bringing peace to a conflict where external actors are involved. But it also illustrates the benefits of an agreed international position – such as we saw in the Berlin Process - for talks to proceed at a national level.
The UN-brokered intra-Libyan dialogue did successfully reach agreement on a nationwide ceasefire and political roadmap – although, as you know, the latter is now under great pressure.
Greater unity amongst major powers and regional actors is still needed in a number of other processes – notably Syria and Yemen.
The UN’s partnerships with Member States, regional and subregional organisations, and civil society are vital to our collective efforts and effectiveness. When the UN and its partners speak with one voice, we are better able to encourage conflict parties to pursue a negotiated solution.
In Africa, for example, where we have acted jointly with the African Union and regional economic communities, we have seen real impact.
In Somalia last April, after the decision to delay elections led to clashes in Mogadishu, joint efforts by the UN, AU, IGAD and EU helped to prevent further escalation and encouraged a resumption of dialogue.
In Côte d’Ivoire, coordinated messaging as part of preventive multi-track diplomacy by the UN, AU and ECOWAS helped to de-escalate tensions around the October 2020 presidential elections.
Across the globe, we seek similar partnerships.
The Core Group in Haiti, for example, chaired by the UN Special Representative and comprising several Member States, the EU, and the Organization of American States, has played a critical facilitation role in helping to manage crises over the years.
At a more technical level, my Department has supported Member States and Resident Coordinators on dialogue and inclusive consultation mechanisms, including around elections in Honduras, Bolivia and Ecuador.
In December 2021, our Innovation Cell, together with the Resident Coordinator, worked with Bolivia’s Vice-Presidency to engage some 200 Bolivians in digital consultations on trust-building and on participants’ hopes for the country’s future.
In Mozambique, we provide technical support to local-level interfaith peacebuilding efforts as part of our partnerships with civil society and private peacemaking organizations.
Let me turn to one of our most significant priorities to effective mediation: the issue of inclusion.
Over recent years, there has been a clear – and welcome – increase in understanding and expectation around women’s meaningful participation, as well as that of youth and other traditionally marginalized groups. At the same time, power politics and entrenched patriarchal attitudes have continued to stymie our work.
Indeed, operating in the context of a global backlash against women’s rights, including shrinking civic space and targeted attacks against women peacebuilders, has added new complexity to the work of mediators in securing inclusive processes.
Nevertheless, recognizing that inclusion is a strategic imperative to the success of mediation, we have taken several steps to integrate it into our work:
First, the Secretary-General has led in appointing women leaders. In late 2020, these efforts led to gender parity being achieved across all Heads and Deputy Heads of UN Peace Operations.
Second, we have pursued innovative direct participation models, such as independent and civil society delegations that prioritize women’s participation, as we saw in the Libya Political Dialogue Forum and Syria Constitutional Committee.
And in Sudan, the UN Mission successfully advocated for gender observers to participate in peace talks.
Third, all our Envoys are engaging in regular consultations with women’s groups. In places like Iraq, Myanmar, Syria and Yemen, we have created women’s advisory boards to ensure that their perspectives inform our work. In Libya, Yemen and other contexts, digital platforms have been used to expand our engagement with hard-to-reach communities.
Fourth, we support local women peacemakers, including through partnerships with civil society and women mediator networks. In 2020, for example, we supported several FemWise deployments.
Finally, recognizing that young women – who so often are at the head of peace movements – face additional barriers to their political participation, we have scaled up the Peacebuilding Fund’s Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative – from $2.7 million in 2016 to a record $51.5 million in 2021.
Looking ahead, our mediation practices will inform and be informed by the New Agenda for Peace, which the Secretary-General has committed to developing as part of Our Common Agenda. Here we have several challenging issues to address:
First, we need to consider how we adapt to the polarised geopolitical environment and build the international support that mediation efforts need to bear fruit. If we cannot ensure consistent regional and international unity, how can we forge alignment in specific peace processes?
Second, seizing opportunity requires us to be ready to support a broad range of mediation activities. The Security Council will, of course, mandate new peace efforts, and the Secretary-General and his representatives will continue to offer good offices.
But we must also be ready to quickly and flexibly lend our support to promising initiatives by individual Member States – such as Norway’s efforts in Venezuela– and by regional organisations, ad-hoc coalitions of states, and local mediation actors.
This Group of Friends will be a vital platform as we identify and tailor support to these formats for mediation and in the efforts to ensure unity of action across them.
Finally, we must continue to prepare for new threats and adapt to the changing environment in which conflicts take place.
In his remarks to the General Assembly on his priorities for 2022, the Secretary-General warned of a five-alarm global fire, where the climate crisis, lawlessness in digital space, and lack of peace and security are amongst the most pressing concerns of the day.
In DPPA we have already been preparing for this reality, focusing efforts to ensure climate security and digital technologies form part of our conflict prevention efforts, and to better understand the opportunities and challenges they bring to peace – as drivers of conflict, and as entry points for collaboration, and inclusion.
Ministers, Excellencies, Friends,
The support from this Group of Friends to our work over the past decade has been invaluable. As we move forward and further develop our mediation practices, we look forward to continuing our collaboration.
I thank you.