Advancing Inclusive Mediation Through the Lens of Leadership

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Advancing Inclusive Mediation Through the Lens of Leadership

The number of civil wars tripled in the decade to 2015. In this context, mediation is widely recognised as a critical tool for promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes, and for conflict prevention and resolution.

By Ms Fleur Heyworth and Dr. Catherine Turner,
1 March 2019
GCSP Strategic Security Analysis Paper: March 2019
Caption: GCSP Strategic Security Analysis Paper: March 2019

Advancing Inclusive Mediation Through the Lens of Leadership

The number of civil wars tripled in the decade to 2015. In this context, mediation is widely recognised as a critical tool for promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes, and for conflict prevention and resolution.

By Ms Fleur Heyworth and Dr. Catherine Turner,

The number of civil wars tripled in the decade to 2015. In this context, mediation is widely recognised as a critical tool for promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes, and for conflict prevention and resolution. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has made mediation a strategic priority, stating in his latest address to the Security Council that “innovative thinking on mediation is no longer an option, it is a necessity.” i In addition, regional organisations including the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) are also increasing their mediation capacity.

It is also increasingly recognised that those who lead high-level mediation processes need to be more representative of diverse stakeholders who bring different perspectives and experiences. Increasing the diversity of mediators is important, because the experience of the mediator will determine how they assess the relative priority of issues in the peace process, and how they are able to connect across tracks to lead inclusive processes.

The barriers to inclusion of people with diverse backgrounds are highlighted by the lack of representation of women: this specific field is recognised as one of the most ‘stark and difficult to address gaps’ in achieving gender parity.ii As stated by Mossarat Qadeem, the exclusion of women is not about culture, it is about power.iii A gendered lens helps us to identify the processes, biases and barriers which contribute to the marginalisation and exclusion not just of women, but of all stakeholders who should be at the peace table.
 

Key Points

  • The complex, volatile and long-lasting nature of contemporary conflicts demands more inclusive mediation processes. These must recognise shifting power structures and connect local, national and global actors. One way to achieve this is to increase the representation of women mediators globally.
  • Greater transparency and a move towards skills-based recruitment of mediators of violent conflicts would help to increase the representation of women by:
    a. overcoming existing biases within the system to recognise broader experience and transferrable skills to build diverse teams;
    b. shifting the emphasis towards skills such as emotional intelligence, which play a critical role in teaming and conflict mediation;
    c. enabling the professionalisation of conflict mediation and level the playing field;
  • Skills-based recruitment would also enable greater synergy between Tracks I, II and III to facilitate more inclusive peace processes that are
    likely to deliver long-term peace and more resilient societies.
  • Specific actions are needed from networks, states and international organisations to enable women to overcome the structural barriers faced, supporting them from an earlier stage, and making them more visible.

Fleur Heyworth leads the GCSP’s work on Gender and Inclusive Security, advancing policy and practice. She directs and facilitates courses with the Geneva Leadership Alliance, including the ‘Inspiring Women Leaders’ series of courses and workshops. She practiced as a barrister in the UK before working on international law and policy, women’s rights and gender equality

 

Dr Catherine Turner is Associate Professor of International Law at Durham University, UK. She is the deputy director of the Durham Global Security Institute and a member of the Law and Global Justice research cluster in Durham Law School. Dr Turner’s expertise lies in the field of international law and conflict. In addition to her academic work, Dr Turner is a trained mediator and was previously an Associate of Mediation Northern Ireland. She now uses this experience to train women in peace mediation skills.