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Department of Political Affairs

2014 Standby Team of Mediation Experts commences work

The members of the Department of Political Affairs’ current Standby Team of Mediation Experts took up in March their one-year assignments in support of UN peacemaking initiatives.

Since 2008 renowned experts in fields that arise frequently in peace talks – such as mediation strategy, power-sharing, constitution-making, human rights and natural resource – have been drawn to work for the United Nations as on-call advisers to peace envoys around the world.

Demand for the Standby Team of Mediation Experts has increased each year. The members of the 2013 team were deployed for more than 100 engagements, including in Syria, Somalia, Bangladesh, Libya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Central African Republic.

Standby team members have the flexibility to deploy on short notice to assist UN or non-UN mediators globally, or to provide analysis and advice remotely. When not in the field, they are working on the development of UN best practices and training materials in their areas of expertise.

The team, located in the Mediation Support Unit of DPA’s Policy and Mediation Division, functions as a resource for the UN system broadly and has also provided assistance to mediation efforts by regional organizations. Team members have been deployed to support traveling envoys, field-based political and peacekeeping missions, and UN Resident Coordinators.

The team is funded in large part by donor contributions. In addition, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has allocated half of the funds from his Seoul Peace Prize to mediation support, thereby enabling DPA to increase the size of the team so as to meet the growing demands in the field.

2014 Standby Team of Mediation Experts

The 2014 team members and their respective areas of expertise are:

Process Design, Gender and Social Inclusion: Rina Amiri (Afghanistan) has worked in the Middle East, South, Southeast and Central Asia. This is her second year on the Standby Team and, most notably, she supported efforts to bring women into the Syrian peace process. She served as a senior advisor to the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and as a Political Officer for UN Special Representatives Lakdhar Brahimi and Jean Arnault during the implementation of the Bonn Agreement in Afghanistan. Ms. Amiri was one of the founding members of the “Women Waging Peace Network”, a coalition of more than 2,000 women peacebuilders. She speaks English and Dari/Farsi, as well as some French.
Natural Resources: Michael Brown (Canada) is an expert on mediation, conflict, and peacebuilding. He has worked extensively on ways to resolve disputes over land and property rights, as well as natural resources (mining, oil and gas and water resources) and wealth-sharing arrangements. This is his second year on the Standby Team. Mr. Brown has held leadership and advisory positions with UNDP, the World Bank, UN Political Missions and USAID. He is fluent in English, Spanish and French.
Constitution-Making and Process Design: Hassen Ebrahim (South Africa) served as a technical adviser to the Transitional Executive Council in the lead up to the 1994 elections in South Africa, then as Chief Executive Officer of the Constitutional Assembly to manage the negotiations. Mr. Ebrahim has provided advice on power-sharing and constitutional expertise in countries including Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. This is his second year on the Standby Team, where he brings expertise in constitution-making, popular consultation processes, power-sharing, as well as religion and peacemaking. Mr. Ebrahim speaks English.

Process Design: Sven Koopmans (Netherlands) is an expert in peace negotiations and process design who combines expertise in international law with experience as a diplomat and political advisor. He specializes in matters of autonomy and self-determination, border disputes and constitutions.This is his second year on the Standby Team. In 2013, he was the lead mediation advisor to the head of the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and helped develop a negotiation framework with other key partners, which led to the 2013 Ouagadougou Framework Agreement. Mr. Koopmans worked for the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and others on disputes and situations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and has seven years’ experience as an attorney in international law and arbitration. He speaks English, French, German and Dutch.
Security Arrangements: Jeffrey Mapendere (Zimbabwe) has worked extensively for the UN in the Standby Team on the Darfur peace process in Doha, as well as supporting good offices efforts in the Central African Republic, Nepal, Somalia, the DRC, South Sudan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Mr. Mapendere has been a lead trainer on ceasefires, process design, and gender and mediation. From 2012 to 2013, he was the senior advisor to the lead Facilitator for the Kampala Dialogue process. He has advised on a range of security issues including negotiating ceasefires, DDR and SSR arrangements, and engaging armed groups. He has also advised the UN on overall issues related to the design of mediation processes. Mr. Mapendere is fluent in English.
Process Design: Pierre-Yves Monette (Belgium) is a professor at the College of Europe, the Bruges-based postgraduate University on European Affairs, since 2002. He provides expertise in the design of mediation processes, constitution-making, community reconciliation, and natural resources (with a focus on water). He was a member of the 2011-12 Standby Team and has been working for the United Nations ever since on a series of consultancies, notably in the Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and the Maldives. He is fluent in French, English, Spanish and Dutch, as well as German, Italian and Portuguese.
Constitutions: Christina Murray (South Africa) is a Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at the University of Cape Town. She had her first experience in constitution-making while serving on a panel of seven experts who advised the South African Constitutional Assembly in drafting the country’s Constitution between 1994 and 1996. Recently she has been part of the constitutional support team of the Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Yemen, as well as the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). In 2012 she was a member of the Constitution Commission of Fiji. Between February 2009 and October 2010 she served as a member of the Kenyan Committee of Experts that prepared the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. Ms. Murray speaks English.
Power-Sharing: Marie-Joëlle Zahar (Lebanon) is a Professor of Political Science who focuses on the dynamics of power-sharing. This is her second year on the Standby Team, a role in which she has supported a number of UN peace efforts, including in the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali and Syria. Ms. Zahar has consulted for a broad range of governmental and non-governmental organizations including OCHA, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and the Government of Canada. She was also the senior expert responsible for developing the Forum of Federations’ program in support of the Popular Consultations’ process in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in the Sudan. Dr. Zahar has worked in and on post-conflict contexts ranging from the Balkans to the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, notably including Iraq and the Sudan. She speaks English, French and Arabic.