On 28 November 2016, the Permanent Missions of Turkey and Finland, as co-Chairs of the Group of Friend of Mediation, and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs organised a meeting at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) to present General Assembly Resolution 70/304 on "Strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution" adopted on 9 September 2016. The meeting was moderated by GCSP representative.
The resolution, negotiated under the leadership of the Group of Friend of Mediation, is the fourth in a series of resolutions which, inter alia, aimed at raising awareness of the need for and utility of mediation at all stages of the conflict continuum especially with a view to preventing conflict and increasing the capabilities for mediation, especially within the UN framework. The creation of the DPA Mediation Support Unit was one of the concrete outcomes of these efforts.
The meeting comprised representatives of the diplomatic community based in Geneva, including from Permanent Missions and UN entities, and representatives of the Non-Governmental Organizations, think tanks and academic institutions dealing with mediation.
In examining Resolution 70/304, participants discussed the implication for their work in Geneva which serves as a main hub for the mediation activities of the United Nations.
Ambassador Hakala of Finland referred to the importance of including all relevant actors of the society in mediation efforts to ensure that the needs of all segments of society are taken into account. The promotion of the role women in peace processes remains a priority of Finland’s foreign policy, together with the strengthening of capacity in the mediation field.
Ambassador Koru of Turkey referred to the importance of linking mediation with the humanitarian and development work, as called for in the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. He also referred to the mediation role that Turkey tries to perform in its region which is ongoing deep transformations and experiencing devastating conflicts.
UN-DPA representative, Mr. Formica, briefed participants about the efforts of DPA and the United Nations Office at Geneva to strengthen Geneva as the UN mediation hub, both in political and logistical terms. He then referred to the extensive and rich mediation network present in Geneva and encouraged actors to further explore synergies and cooperation.
Four main speakers from the Host Government, Office of Special Envoy for Syria (OSE), Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) and Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation shared their reflections in their respective fields. Swiss Ambassador Spoljaric referred to efforts by her Government to improve the effectiveness of the United Nations in the peace and security area, including by increasing cooperation between organs based in Geneva and New York. Mr. Dann from OSE shared his insights on the work of three UN Envoys that in the last five years have tried to bring the devastating conflict in Syria to an end. He also made reference to cases of innovative partnership with NGOs in managing specific aspects of the peace process. Ms. Papagianni referred to CHD’s work to deal with ‘hard to reach actors’ and emphasized the importance of having Geneva as the organization’s HQ as it enhances its image as an impartial organization. Mr. Bruderlein informed participants about the recent launch of the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation which represents a good example of the type of partnerships which are possible in Geneva as it includes ICRC, MSF, WFP, UNHCR and HD.
The meeting concluded with a lively discussion in which participants welcomed the initiative and expressed the desire to continue discussions related to mediation, including in other formats and by exploring specific mediation-related themes.