Cyprus Talks intensifying, UN role enhanced
United Nations-backed talks to reunify the divided island of Cyprus will be kicking into higher gear in the days ahead with a goal of narrowing differences on all major issues by October, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on 7 July after meeting with Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders in Geneva.
“We have identified some of the difficulties that are standing in the way of reaching a comprehensive agreement, and we have discussed the need to significantly intensify the negotiations,” the Secretary-General said after the meeting. He added that both the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Dimitris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Dervis Eroglu, had accepted the offer of an enhanced UN involvement in a process that remains, nonetheless, Cypriot-led.
The talks, which began in 2008, are being facilitated by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer. The Department of Political Affairs provides support and guidance to the Special Envoy and his team, while assisting the Secretary-General in his involvement in the negotiations.
Under-Secretary-General Pascoe visits Iraq
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, paid a three-day visit to Iraq in June, where he reiterated the United Nations’ commitment to assist the country in building a stable and thriving democracy. Mr. Pascoe met with Prime Minister Nouri-Al-Maliki and other Iraqi officials in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Erbil. He also visited the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), a political mission working to promote reconciliation and stability in Iraq.
“Iraq remains a very high priority on the UN agenda and we will do everything we can to assist this country and its people in securing a better, safer and more prosperous future for all of its people,” said Mr. Pascoe, underlining the UN’s commitment to its political and development work in Iraq even as the planned U.S. troop withdrawal at the end of 2011 will bring change to the country.
The Under-Secretary-General emphasized the UN’s readiness to further assist the Iraqi leaders in resolving contentious issues of Internally Disputed Boundaries such as in the northern city of Kirkuk. Furthermore, he underlined the continued support in other areas, such as basic service delivery and the promotion of human rights.
New UN envoy for the Central African Republic
DPA official Margaret Vogt has been appointed as Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) and took up the position in June. Vogt, a former UN Deputy Special Representative in Somalia, replaced Sahle-Work Zewde who led the Office for two years.
Ms. Vogt brings to this position over 30 years of diplomatic and academic experience, with a focus on Africa. During her career, Ms. Vogt worked in high-level positions at the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). She also held positions at various academic institutions, including Director of the Africa Programme at the International Peace Academy.
BINUCA is a field mission supervised by the Department of Political Affairs, established in January 2010 to succeed BONUCA, which had supported efforts to consolidate peace and security in the country since 2000. BINUCA was designed as an “integrated” mission, ensuring the coherence of peacebuilding activities of the various UN entities present in the Central African Republic.
2011 Standby Team of Mediation Experts gets to work
For the past three years, the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) has made expertise available to mediation efforts through its Standby Team of Mediation Experts. The seven members of the 2011 Team, who took up their positions this spring, have already been deployed for a variety of assignments in the service of UN entities and other organizations. On Libya, for example, the Standby Team has provided support to the UN Special Envoy, who works towards a political solution to the conflict.
The seven experts have the flexibility to deploy on 72 hours notice to assist
UN or non-UN mediators globally or to provide advice or analysis by phone or Internet. When not in the field, they are working on the development of UN best practices and training materials in their areas of expertise, including constitutional issues, power-sharing and security arrangements.
With numerous deployments to the field in support of mediation and dialogue processes each year, the Standby Team of Mediation Experts continues to be a versatile and effective resource of DPA.
The 2011 team members and their respective areas of expertise are:
• Constitutions: Mr. Pierre-Yves Monette (Belgium) is an attorney and a professor at European University (EU) specializing in international mediation and constitutional law. Mr. Andrew Ladley (New Zealand) (Interim) is an adjunct professor at the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington.
• Gender: Ms. Sanam Naraghi Anderlini (Iran) is the Executive Director of the International Civil Society Action Network and specializes in opening political space for women in conflict situations.
• Natural Resources: Mr. Alexander Gryzbowski (Canada) worked extensively on water-sharing and mediation issues with the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
• Power-sharing: Mr. Marc Weller (Germany) is professor of international law at Cambridge University, who specializes in the areas of peace-making and post-conflict stabilization.
• Mediation, Dialogue and Facilitation Process Design: Mr. Jeffrey Mapendere (Zimbabwe) has contributed to UN supported peace processes in the Central Africa Republic, Nepal, Liberia, Somalia (UNPOS), and Sudan (including in the ongoing Darfur peace talks in Doha).
• Mediation, Dialogue and Facilitation Process Design: Mr. Peter Bartu (Australia) is a visiting scholar at the Centre of South East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
• Security Arrangements: Mr. Mbaye Faye (Senegal) is the Director of Security Sector Reform for the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), and has been extensively involved in the Burundi peace process.
More about Mediation Support at DPA