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Department of Political Affairs

Standby Team of Mediation Experts

Since 2008 renowned experts in fields such as mediation, strategy, power-sharing, constitution-making, human rights and natural resources have been plucked from prestigious careers to work for the United Nations on full time one-year assignments as on-call advisers to peace envoys around the world.

Demand for the Department of Political Affairs’ Standby Team of Mediation Experts has increased each year. The members of the 2012 Team were deployed on more than 70 occasions to over 30 countries, from the Central African Republic to Yemen and the Maldives, and from Kyrgyzstan to Libya and Somalia.

Current Standby Team members are playing central roles in supporting several mediation efforts, including the Yemeni national dialogue, the negotiations between the DRC government and the M23 movement, dialogue efforts in Mali and Maldives, constitutional processes in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia, and the transition of the UN mission in Somalia - as well as several other mediation and dialogue initiatives.                            

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.

The Team is located in the Mediation Support Unit of DPA’s Policy and Mediation Division and functions as a resource for the UN system broadly. Team members have been deployed to support traveling envoys, field-based political and peacekeeping missions, and UN Resident Coordinators.
Assistance is provided in the planning, support, and coordination of mediation efforts; in contributing thematic advice; conducting training and capacity building with conflict parties; carrying out strategic assessments; and developing policy guidance, lessons learned, and mediation best practices to guide future efforts.
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 for mediation support, thus enabling DPA to increase the size of the team to meet the growing demands in the field.
                           Standby Team
                                                        Standby Team of Mediation Experts 2013
The 2013 team members and their respective areas of expertise are:

Gender and Social Inclusion: Rina Amiri (Afghanistan) has worked in the Middle East, South, Southeast and Central Asia. She served as a senior advisor to the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and 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 and has worked extensively on ways to resolve disputes over land and property rights, as well as issues related to natural resources and wealth-sharing. 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.
Constitutions: 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 and Somalia. He brings expertise in constitution-making, popular consultation processes, power-sharing, as well as religion and peacemaking. Mr. Ebrahim speaks English.
Process Design: Antje Herrberg (Germany) is the co-founder and CEO of “mediatEUr”, a European mediation organization. In addition, Ms. Herrberg served as the Director for Mediation and Dialogue of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) from 2004 to 2012. She worked as the Chief Facilitation Advisor to the Aceh follow-up peace process for Martti Ahtisaari and brings expertise in mediation, process-design, gender, civil society, coaching, and capacity building. She speaks English, French, German and Russian.

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. 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 of 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, and has also supported 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. 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 mediation process-design issues. Mr. Mapendere is fluent in English.
Process Design: John Packer (Canada) is a Professor of International Law and Human Rights. He was a senior staff member at the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (1995-2004), and engaged on multiple conflict prevention and reconciliation issues across the OSCE area. As a past Standby Team member, he has worked extensively for the UN in countries including Yemen, Maldives, Chad and Bosnia. He brings particular expertise in the areas of constitutions, national dialogue processes, international law and human rights. He speaks English and French.
Power-Sharing: Marie-Joëlle Zahar (Lebanon) is a Professor of Political Science and focuses on the dynamics of power-sharing. She 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. Dr. Zahar has worked in/on post-conflict contexts ranging from the Balkans to the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, notably in Iraq and the Sudan. She speaks English, French and Arabic.