Secretary-General's remarks to the General Assembly on Mediation
New York, 13 September 2012
I commend the General Assembly for promoting mediation as a key means to realize the purposes and principles of the Charter. And I am pleased to present to you my report on the subject and the United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation.
Mr. President, I thank you for your leadership and focus on this vital issue.
I also thank the Friends of Mediation, co-chaired by His Excellency Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen of Finland and His Excellency Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan of Turkey, for their support and leadership.
I share your vision and have made strengthening preventive diplomacy and mediation a priority.
I wish to see the United Nations and all our partners make full use of the potential of mediation to prevent, manage and resolve disputes and conflicts.
We need to have the know-how, the operational dexterity, and the partnerships to undertake mediation professionally and effectively.
Many lives are at stake when a conflict reaches a stage that requires the deployment of a mediation team.
The United Nations has been active in mediation efforts in dozens of disputes and conflicts. Today, the UN is supporting mediation and facilitation efforts in all regions of the world, with a broad array of local, national and regional partners.
This is a signal that more parties are open to the promise of mediation. Yet with growing engagement comes growing expectation.
We must be up to the task. And I am pleased to report that we are making real progress.
With your support, we have worked hard to enhance our readiness to implement and support mediation processes.
The Department of Political Affairs, which anchors many UN mediation efforts, has been strengthened.
The Department’s Mediation Support Unit has become a key provider of mediation services within and outside the UN system.
Stand-by teams of mediation experts have been quickly deployed to all corners of the world – from Central Africa to Central Asia… from Europe to the Middle East … to the Americas.
We are also doing more to ensure that UN envoys and special representatives have the experience, knowledge and support to provide good offices and mediation. This is the day-to-day work of our political missions in the field.
And our country teams on the ground are also frequently called upon to help support national efforts to peacefully resolve tensions.
Our mediation work draws on the experience and capacities of the entire UN system … including support from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) for natural resources negotiations … the expertise of UN Women to promote women’s participation … and the work of the UNDP to assist national and civil society actors develop their mediation capacity.
However, mediation is not the exclusive domain of the United Nations.
Member States, regional, sub-regional and non-governmental organizations are increasingly involved.
This diversity of actors is an asset. Each can contribute to the search for the peace, according to its comparative advantage.
In some settings, however, competition among different players has hampered mediation efforts.
It is our common responsibility to work together to support the effective use of mediation.
That is why we are increasing our engagement with regional organizations, Member States and non-governmental organisations to build mediation capacity, cooperation and networks at the regional, national and local levels.
We must also continue to enhance the participation of women in peace processes.
We are now providing gender expertise and appointing women in most UN mediation teams, though there is still clearly room for improvement.
More and more of our teams are making genuine efforts to consult with women’s organizations systematically throughout the mediation process.
There are a growing number of female senior officials who undertake mediation as part of their duties in field missions – and, as I state in my report, I remain committed to appointing a female United Nations envoy to lead a UN mediation effort.
Overall, we have improved our support for inclusive and effective mediation processes. If we are to sustain these efforts, mediation efforts must be adequately resourced.
The General Assembly has also requested the development of United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation. It is annexed to the report before you.
In developing the Guidance, we drew extensively from our own experience as well as the insights of Member States and others.
The result is a foundational document for UN mediation efforts and for all interested in the peaceful resolution of disputes. I am pleased that the General Assembly is encouraging all mediation actors to make full use of it.
On September 27, we will hold a special high-level launch of the Guidance. This event will feature a panel discussion of a number of eminent mediators. I encourage your Ministers to attend this important event.
As I have often said, mediation can only succeed where there is a commitment to solving a conflict through dialogue and real leverage to back it up.
Regrettably, some of the tragedies before us show once again the terrible price that is paid for the absence of international unity or political will from the parties.
And while not all conflicts may be amenable to mediation, we must remain engaged and constantly look for opportunities for dialogue.
Our commitment to resolve disputes and conflicts peacefully is a central tenet of the Charter of the United Nations, and mediation is a key tool.
Thank you very much.
Statements on 13 September 2012
- New York, 13 September 2012 - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on violence in Libya and the Middle East
- Geneva, Switzerland, 13 September 2012 - Secretary-General's video message to Panel on Intimidation or Reprisal Against Individuals and Groups Who Cooperate or Have Cooperated with the United Nations and its Representatives and Mechanisms in the Field of Human Rights