5 March 2008


5 March 2008
Press Release
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





NEW YORK, 5 March (Department of Political Affairs) -- Peace envoys managing complex negotiations around the world can now call on the advice of a new team of United Nations experts ready to be dispatched on demand to talks.

The United Nations announced the launch of its new Standby Team of Mediation Experts at a press conference today at Headquarters in New York by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe.  This new initiative comes amid a broader effort by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to build up United Nations capacity for preventive diplomacy by strengthening its Department of Political Affairs.

“Successful conflict mediation is a complex enterprise requiring precisely the kind of mobile expertise this new team can provide,” Under-Secretary-General Pascoe said.  “Even the most experienced envoys cannot do it alone.  They can benefit from the kind of timely and expert advice that this Team has to offer.”

The Standby Team is made up of recognized experts on many of the key issues that arise frequently in peace talks.  These include how to rewrite constitutions to promote peace, find formulas for the sharing of wealth and power, promote justice and reconciliation in the wake of atrocities and transition former soldiers into civilian life.

Two of the six experts who initially comprise the Standby Team have already been dispatched to Kenya this week to assist in the ongoing African-led mediation efforts to resolve the political crisis there.  Other team members are in New York for briefings before taking up their assignments shortly in the field.

The Standby Team was chosen from a slate of hundreds of candidates, through a rigorous process that included an open invitation for nominations from United Nations Member States.

The founding Team members are:

Joyce Neu ( United States), Team Leader.  Ms. Neuhas mediated in conflicts and conducted conflict assessments in dozens of countries around the world, especially Africa and Central Europe, in her work both as adviser on conflict resolution to former United States President Jimmy Carter and as founding Executive Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego.

Jeffrey Mapendere ( Zimbabwe), Security Arrangements (from ceasefires to the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of combatants).  Mr. Mapendere, a former officer and instructor in the Zimbabwe National Army, has most recently worked as Executive Director of the Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation (CIIAN) in Ottawa, Canada, where he oversaw mediation training programmes and international field work on conflict issues in several African countries.  He worked on peace and democracy projects throughout Africa and is an authority on armed groups in the region.

Patrick Gavigan (United States/Ireland), Transitional Justice and Human Rights.  Mr. Gavigan is an international lawyer with extensive field experience with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions in Central America and Africa and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Balkans.  His most recent United Nations posting was as head of the Rule of Law and Civil Affairs Section of the United Nations Mission in Burundi (ONUB) in 2004-2006, where he worked on the establishment of a truth commission and special court to address atrocities committed during the conflict.

John McGarry ( Canada), Power-Sharing.  Mr.McGarry was born and raised in Northern Ireland and is regarded as one of the leading international experts on power-sharing institutions and on different forms of autonomy.  He has had a particular interest in ethnic conflict and has appeared as an expert witness in the United States Congress and also mediated in State-minority negotiations.  His work is recognized as having contributed to the 1998 Belfast Agreement in Northern Ireland, particularly in the area of policing reform.

Andrew Ladley ( New Zealand), Constitution-making.  Mr. Ladley is an accomplished mediator and an expert in constitutional, electoral, justice and human rights matters.  He has considerable field experience in international conflict environments and peace operations, including with the United Nations in Cambodia and Timor-Leste, and with the Commonwealth in South Africa and the Gambia.  Over the last five years, he has worked extensively on constitutional and electoral issues in a number of situations in the Pacific.

The Mediation Support Standby Team will be supervised by the Department of Political Affairs and can be deployed either as a group or separately, depending on need.  Their services are being offered to current United Nations envoys, political and peacekeeping missions in the field, as well as to regional organizations with whom the United Nations works closely in conflict mediation.

“As we’ve seen in Kenya and other flashpoints around the world, mediation by impartial third parties can be an invaluable tool for bridging mistrust and bringing conflicts to an end,” Mr. Pascoe added.

During the first year, most of the Standby Team’s costs, including recruitment, start-up expenses and travel to the field, will be generously funded by the Government of Norway.  It is expected that the team will be expanded as resources permit.  Administrative arrangements allowing for rapid deployments are being managed through a partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council, a non-governmental organization that has assisted the United Nations previously in maintaining a standby team of humanitarian workers.

The Standby Mediation Team is just one of the initiatives led by the Department of Political Affairs Mediation Support Unit, which was established in 2006 to help professionalize United Nations activities in this field.  The Unit is already providing expertise and funding to a number of active mediation efforts, training staff in mediation skills, de-briefing envoys on lessons learned in the field and maintaining a comprehensive website for practitioners (www.un.org/peacemaker).

United Nations Member States have called for a stronger United Nations role in using diplomacy to prevent conflicts from escalating into larger and costlier tragedies.  They are currently considering a $21 million proposal put forth by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to strengthen and reorganize the Department of Political Affairs, the main arm of the Organization sustaining peacemaking activities and preventive diplomacy.

For more information on the Mediation Standby Team or on the proposals to strengthen the Department of Political Affairs, please contact Jared Kotler, Press and Public Affairs, Department of Political Affairs, kotler@un.org, +1 917 367 5264.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.