Meaningful Women’s Involvement Throughout Peace Processes, Decision-making Key for Reconciliation, Speakers Stress during Day-Long Debate
With conflicts taking on transnational dimensions, peace agreements growing more elusive and political will waning, the United Nations must be “bold and creative” in harnessing the avenues and capacities available for mediation, Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council today in an open debate on the topic.
“We must make prevention our priority,” he said, by investing in mediation, peacebuilding and sustainable development. The United Nations has various resources it deploys, including the Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers, whose members are providing guidance in the Central African Republic on transitional justice and assisting in the design of a mediation process in Yemen, among its many efforts around the world.
Discreet engagement also plays a role, he said, noting that talks with the Taliban, “away from the glare of publicity”, has allowed positions to be clarified, while broader work with non-governmental organizations — which often have greater freedom to establish contacts and foster dialogue with armed groups — has been instrumental to success. “I urge you to commit to more effective use of mediation,” he stressed.
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said mediation is only effective in the context of reconciliation. Communities must come to terms with history and learn to “disagree well”. As a member of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation, he advocated for a cross‑agency, cross‑departmental reconciliation strategy to be put in place. The time has come for the United Nations to move beyond fragmented work and place reconciliation at the core of its partnerships with faith communities, he asserted.
In such work, said Mossarat Qadeem, Executive Director of PAIMAN Alumni Trust, women have been excluded, stressing that, despite the rhetoric of support, “we as women remain largely outside the door”. There is a misconception about the role of mediator, who is seen in terms that are inherently masculine. Sharing her experience of negotiating with the Taliban in Pakistan, she asked: “How much longer can the world really afford to exclude those of us who are making peace at the front lines?”. The newly established Commonwealth Network of Women Mediators will provide patronage and structural support for women to serve as mediation mentors and advisers.
Women’s involvement in mediation was a theme that reverberated throughout the open debate, which heard some 70 delegates take the floor. Several — notably from the United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, Netherlands and Brazil — called on the United Nations to ensure that women are involved meaningfully and equally, as leaders and decision‑makers, from national to local levels. Their participation is not “a box that can be ticked” by adding one or two women to negotiating teams, said Sweden’s delegate.
“Women should be involved before, during and especially following negotiations,” said Colombia’s delegate, who was one of several describing her country’s success in ending conflict. Ireland’s delegate, noting that women comprised just 2 per cent of mediators in major peace processes between 1990 and 2017, recognized the critical work of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition in achieving the Good Friday Agreement, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.
Others focused on the Council’s need to support the greater use of mediation, with Kuwait’s delegate lamenting that the United Nations spent billions on managing conflicts when it could more wisely prioritize peaceful dispute settlement. He pressed the Council to give more responsibility to regional and subregional organizations.
On that point, Equatorial Guinea’s delegate, speaking also on behalf of Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia in his capacity as Coordinator of the A3, said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) have all played a key role, as seen recently in the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. Further, 20 African Union special envoys and mediators are deployed around the continent.
Underscoring the need to select mediators who are acceptable to all parties, Egypt’s delegate pressed the Council to consider the specific circumstances of each conflict. “We need to be flexible,” he said. The representative of the Russian Federation similarly cited knowledge of historic and cultural specificities as particularly useful and advocated using both objective criteria and geographic balance when selecting mediators.
Still others weighed the benefits and appropriate timelines for mediation. Even the world’s greatest mediators “cannot compel anyone to do anything”, said the United States delegate. The missing ingredient is often the Council’s own unwillingness to see a peace process succeed. In South Sudan, it waited years amid a bloody conflict before imposing sanctions and an arms embargo just last month. He supported the imposition of real consequences when parties are not willing to negotiate.
For Libya, its years-long internal dispute is due to political differences, said that country’s delegate. While he welcomed any United Nations mediation effort, the peace process must be Libyan-owned, as foreign intervention will only obstruct success.
Timing is important, said Switzerland’s delegate. Mediation must be attempted “when the time is right for settlement”. The Council is well positioned to influence and deliver the necessary conditions, as was the case in Yemen, when its mention of possible sanctions helped a mediator persuade belligerents.
Inevitably, said India’s delegate, the “torturous” decision-making within the United Nations, imbued with political trade-offs, saps the Organization of the dynamism and flexibility needed to pursue mediation. In every circumstance, mediation is a task the United Nations is not geared to fulfil. Rather than saddle it with activities, it is ill-suited to perform, and he advised exploring alternatives which use its competencies more judiciously.
Also speaking were representatives of Bolivia, Poland, France, Peru, China, Russian Federation, Turkey (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Mediation), Pakistan, Philippines, Lithuania, Iran, Liechtenstein, Canada, Jordan, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Guatemala, Ukraine, Argentina, Mexico, Germany, Spain, Japan, Georgia, Portugal, Sudan, Romania, Estonia, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Djibouti, Morocco, Belgium, Italy, Bangladesh, Venezuela (on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement), Kenya, Malaysia, Slovenia, Maldives, South Africa, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Viet Nam, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Haiti, Armenia, Fiji, Bahrain, Oman and Indonesia, as well as the European Union and the Holy See.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said war is becoming increasingly complex — and so is mediating peace, with internal conflicts frequently taking on regional and transnational dimensions, with many featuring a deadly mix of fragmented armed groups and political interests funded by criminal activities. Comprehensive peace agreements are becoming more elusive as political will wanes and international attention drifts. “As bad as the situation is in many parts of the world, I am convinced that it is within our power to tackle and reverse these trends,” he said, which is why there has been a surge in diplomacy during his tenure.
It is important to be “bold and creative” in bringing together the avenues and capacities available for mediation, he said, noting that the United Nations has a number of such resources in his special envoys and representatives, good offices and formal talks, which may lead to a political process, as in Libya or Yemen. They could also head a complex peacekeeping operation as in Mali, or focus on prevention from a regional office, as in West Africa.
Collaboration with other mediation actors is vital, he said, noting that in Madagascar, his special adviser has coordinated with special envoys of the African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC), European Union and the International Organization of la Francophonie to facilitate Malagasy‑led negotiations. Members of the United Nations Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers meanwhile are advising officials in the Central African Republic on transnational justice, and in South Sudan, providing support to the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) which is leading the mediation process.
Discreet engagement also plays a role, he said, citing talks with the Taliban, away from the glare of publicity, which allows for positions to be clarified, an approach that has also been taken in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The United Nations also works with non‑governmental organizations, which often have greater freedom to establish contacts and foster dialogue with armed groups. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, an enormous range of national bodies, civil society groups, religious leaders and young activists play a part in mediation at local and community levels. Further, the Organization is finding new ways to pursue inclusive approaches through his good offices and personal engagement, where it can add value, with a recently established High‑Level Advisory Board on Mediation complementing those efforts with experience and networks across the spectrum of mediation.
Successful mediation and peaceful dispute settlement requires a deep understanding of leaders and their constituencies, he said, coupled with strong political will. He cited the Declaration of Peace and Friendship, signed by the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea last month after 20 years of conflict, in that context, and described working at the subnational and local levels to build peace “from the ground up”, as the national conference process in Libya has done. His envoys are supporting local efforts to address communal conflicts in South Sudan and they are engaging with a women’s advisory board and civil society support room on the Syrian process. In the Central African Republic, the United Nations is engaging at the local level with national authorities and religious leaders.
The emergence of regional networks of women mediators is another important development, he said, citing the Nordic Women Mediators Network and FemWise, and the African Union network of women mediators as notable examples. Inclusive mediation requires paying greater attention to conflict‑related sexual violence and the gendered impact of decisions around post‑war reconstruction. More must be done to engage with young people and it is encouraging that six young refugees took part as observers in the South Sudan High‑Level Revitalization Forum. Finally, social platforms can help bring communities together, stimulate dialogue, share information and heal historic wrongs.
Parties to conflict are highly attuned to, and play on, divisions in the international community. The Council plays a central role in signalling to warring parties that they must peacefully settle their disputes. When united, it is more effective, and when it is not, mediation suffers. Consistent messaging by regional and subregional organizations, which have the expertise and capacity to find innovative responses to problems, can be a great support to the Council. Indeed, as the conflict landscape has changed, innovative thinking on mediation is a necessity. He urged the Council to commit to more effective use of mediation as a tool to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
JUSTIN WELBY, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking both as a religious leader and a member of the Secretary‑General’s High‑Level Advisory Board on Mediation, said the average member of the global church community is poor, female, living in a conflict or post‑conflict setting, and has the aspirations of all vulnerable people — “above all, a longing for peace”. “The church and other faith communities are intimately present where there are conflicts,” he stressed, adding: “We cannot and will not walk away from them.” Citing the example of South Sudan, he said church leaders are playing an increasingly important role in moving the peace process beyond its current roadblocks. However, mediation can only be effective in the context of reconciliation arrangements. Communities must come to terms with history and learn to “disagree well”, he stressed, likening mediation — however skilled — to using a garden hose to put out a forest fire, “when what you need is rain over the whole area to let new life grow and sustain itself”.
In that context, he said, mediation and the entire conflict cycle must be complemented with reconciliation frameworks. Noting that the international community has avoided a global nuclear war, but not its continuing menace, he expressed concern that today the international rules‑based order is struggling and national interests are too often allowed “even in this chamber” to overcome the wisdom of those who have lived through war. “Without dealing with even passionate disagreement peacefully, no national interest can prevail,” he said. Short‑term advantage for one party can lead to long‑term destruction for all. Institutions like the church can play a significant role, as they are often the only functioning institutions present before, during and after conflict. They can provide early warning signs and work with communities to provide pre‑emptive reconciliation frameworks to stop conflicts before they become or return to violence.
Urging those present today to support efforts to bring conflict transformation efforts to the grass‑roots level — and not only to elites in conferences — he said such work will enable mediation to be “orders of magnitude” more effective. The United Nations is the most extraordinary example of reconciliation frameworks, but the same must be embedded in current ways of working and analysis. Advocating, in that regard, for a cross‑agency and cross‑departmental reconciliation strategy supported by the necessary resources, he said much good work is already taking place. The Mediation Support Unit is one vital component, and partnerships between United Nations offices and groups including the Network for Traditional and Religious Peacemakers helps to build shared understanding. Welcoming other important efforts, he nevertheless described it as “overdue” for the United Nations to move beyond such fragmented work and place transformative reconciliation at the core of all the Organization’s partnerships with faith communities.
Underscoring the important participation of women and youth in mediation and conflict transformation, he said his office is currently developing a programme known as “Women on the Front Line”, which offers support and equips women in their daily contexts. It will be complemented by a “Youth on the Front Line” initiative, he said, recalling several other recent initiatives, including an “Emerging Peacemakers Forum” held earlier this year in London to bring young people from various religious communities together to learn about peacebuilding.
MOSSARAT QADEEM, Executive Director of PAIMAN Alumni Trust, highlighted how women have been excluded in mediation, but how they could play a key role in such efforts. “Despite the rhetoric of support and even the resolutions and national plans that you have adopted, we as women remain largely outside the door,” she said. There is a misconception about the role of mediator, who is seen as having power and gravitas — terms that are inherently masculine and associated with the ability to knock heads or press for compromises. Many are skeptical of the ability of women to talk to violent extremist groups like the Taliban, Boko Haram or the Tamil Tigers.
Years ago, a group of mothers of missing soldiers in Sri Lanka successfully mediated a ceasefire, which was followed by peace talks between the Tamil Tigers and the Government, she said, also sharing her own experience of speaking with the Taliban in Pakistan. “I found the courage not only to speak with them to release my staff members they had captured, but I took the chance to seek support for the implementation of health and education projects. This is mediation,” she said.
Women, because of their connections to communities and households, are helpful in localized peacebuilding, she said. Women mediators can ensure that peacebuilding agreements are more gender‑sensitive and thus more comprehensive and legitimate. Women’s engagement is particularly important in Track II and III diplomacy as women can effectively use soft power and humanizing communication to create more open and flexible peace processes. Women are often credited with the ability to change the conversation and provide a compassionate and non‑threatening presence at the table, thus helping warring parties to find common cause and reach an agreement.
Women must be included in Track I diplomacy in order to advance greater gender equality, she said. The recently established Commonwealth Network of Women Mediators will provide much‑needed patronage and structural support for women to serve as mediation mentors and advisers. “We are seeing conflicts become more protracted and metastasize across borders and continents. How much longer can the world really afford to exclude those of us who are making peace at the front lines?” she said.
TARIQ MAHMOOD AHMAD, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations of the United Kingdom, Council President for August, spoke in his national capacity to say the 15‑member organ is often uniquely placed to support mediation efforts. But it is far from the only actor. Averting violence requires approaches with a range of actors including regional and subregional organizations, civil society, religious leaders and women’s mediation networks. The division in Northern Ireland took years of negotiation to resolve, resulting in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, showing the value of patient and persistent negotiation. In the Central African Republic and Mali, community‑level mediation, conducted or facilitated by peacekeeping missions, has seen success. The United Nations has professionalized its mediation role through the years, notably with the creation of the mediation support unit in 2006 and a standby team of mediation advisers in 2008. Looking ahead, it is important to address the changing nature of conflict and he pressed the Council to work with mediators from regional and subregional organizations. More broadly, the United Nations must ensure mediation is properly resourced, and that women are involved meaningfully and equally, as leaders and decision‑makers, from national to local levels. The United Kingdom will commit £1.6 million to the development of a network of women mediators across the Commonwealth.
JOB OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea), spoke on behalf of his own country, as well as Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia in his capacity as A3 Coordinator, pressing the Council to ensure that mediation — whether led by the United Nations, regional or subregional organizations or States — receive the requisite support. “There is no real alternative to prioritizing mediation,” he said, welcoming the General Assembly’s approval of the Secretary‑General’s prioritization of prevention and peacekeeping. The challenges to global security are so complex they cannot be addressed solely by the Council, making cooperation with regional organizations, especially the African Union, as set out in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, particularly important. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), IGAD and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) play a key role, as seen recently in the Gambia and Guinea‑Bissau. Further, 20 African Union special envoys and mediators are deployed around the continent, supported by a mediation assistance unit. Underscoring the need to strengthen regional and international structures to include women, he said the African Union mediation efforts are guided by the goal of “silencing the guns” and complemented the United Nations prevention agenda. He advocated greater cooperation.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia) said her country has always advocated for the use of peaceful dispute settlement, including mediation, arbitration, judicial settlement, and reference to regional agreements, pursuant to Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter. Mediation must recognize the historical and cultural specificities of the actors involved. The political will of parties is of paramount importance, with involvement of women and young people vital to success. Voicing support for the Secretary‑General’s goal to increase the number of women mediators, she said the United Nations role must be one of impartiality and neutrality. Such efforts require a stable financial, administrative and operational environment, with efforts coordinated to avoid the duplication of work. She advocated for a focus on capacity‑building and establishing initiatives with States that involves training mediators and establishing mediation networks. For its part, the Council must promote cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, she said, encouraging the Secretary‑General to continue the use of his good offices.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), describing conflict prevention and management through mediation as one of the United Nations founding principles, urged States to take all possible steps to further enhance the Organization’s capacities in those areas. In today’s complex world, the United Nations cannot be expected to fulfil its role in safeguarding international peace and security alone. Regional organizations, individual Member States and non‑governmental entities have important — and, at times, the most important — contributions to make. Recalling that the basis on which mediation is based is the concept of “restorative justice” — pioneered by the Polish lawyer and sociologist Leon Petrazycki — she called for stronger partnerships between the United Nations various offices and agencies. Indeed, the Organization already has the right tools to advance mediation, including the Mediation Support Unit, the Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers and the recently established High‑level Advisory Board. Recalling that the first results of successfully conducted negotiations by a member of the Board have already been seen in the case of Liberia’s recent presidential election, she also cited several examples of the crucial involvement of civil society groups, including women’s organizations, and urged Member States to respond to calls to enhance the financing of United Nations mediation and prevention efforts.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France) said mediation is a clear demonstration of the increased power of diplomacy, a key part of the work of both the United Nations and the Council. Citing the cases of the Gambia and Colombia as recent success stories where mediation was used, she agreed with the Secretary‑General that more efforts are needed to prevent the onset and escalation of conflicts around the world. Today, the United Nations plays a critical role managing peace processes in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic and parts of West Africa, among other places. Citing some of the challenges facing those efforts, she said the peace agreement reached in Mali is currently under threat, while other processes suffer from a lack of political will. Meanwhile, such emerging challenges as climate change are accelerating conflicts in some parts of the world. In addition to the Council’s unity and inclusivity — in particular, the effective participation of women as a sine qua non in any peace processes — she listed other critical elements, including partnerships with civil society and regional organizations, which “give the United Nations proximity on the ground” as well as local know‑how.
KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said that today’s complex conflicts require adaptation of the existing instruments, as mediation efforts often result in a mosaic of uncoordinated initiatives by States and non‑governmental organizations. His delegation encourages the use of mediation and other tools before situations become a threat to international peace and security. They may benefit situations such as those in Cameroon and Nicaragua. Women must be equal partners in peace processes, and particularly in mediation efforts, and therefore the United Nations should appoint more women as envoys. Mediation must also be used throughout the conflict cycle. Prevention is at the core of the United Nations work, but it is entirely funded by voluntary contributions. Assessed contributions for prevention should be a given.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said strengthening multilateralism and rejuvenating the United Nations are critical endeavours in today’s increasingly complex world. Among the methods listed under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, mediation is particularly crucial before, during and after a conflict. International mediation, along with good offices, goes beyond simply establishing contact between the parties. Instead, mediators are called upon to guide the negotiations in line with the principle of national sovereignty. Mediators must also guide the parties towards solutions consistent with the international rules‑based system, and never towards “unfriendly” ends. Spotlighting the importance of mediation expertise, he welcomed the creation of the High‑Level Advisory Board and its successful recent work in Liberia and elsewhere. In the pursuit of peace processes in such conflict zones as Syria and Yemen, those officials charged with mediation responsibilities can rely on the support of Peru and the Council. The international community should more actively support the development and strengthening of mediation capacities, and work towards a more holistic approach that includes early warning systems. Turning to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said those must always be complemented by peacebuilding efforts and include an exit strategy from their earliest stages.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) underscored the Security Council’s vital role in promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes, especially by means of mediation. One effective tool is a regional United Nations presence, he said, citing the work of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). As indicated in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, regional organizations are particularly important actors, he said, emphasizing the need for the Organization to strengthen cooperation with those entities. He added that there should be more meaningful participation of women, religious groups and youth in mediation and peace processes, and recalled his country’s role as an honest broker in Syrian peace talks and the Iran nuclear deal.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) referred to a verse in the Qur’an stressing the importance of mediation 1,400 years ago. Indeed, the United Nations was established to prevent conflict, and mediation is a civilized means for settling conflict. If two parties agree to participate, it is a sign of their civilized nature. The history of mediation demonstrated it had been institutionalized in the twentieth century, notably through the 1907 Hague Convention. It is unfortunate the Council has not paid enough attention to mediation. It should increase its use of Chapter VI of the Charter, he said, stressing “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It is unacceptable for the United Nations to “spend billions” containing and managing conflicts by deploying peacekeepers when it is more viable to invest in mediation. Logic dictates it should prioritize Chapter VI over Chapter VII. He pressed the Council to prioritize mediation, giving regional and subregional organizations more responsibility through Chapter VIII in that regard.
CARL ORRENIUS SKAU (Sweden) said that gender mainstreaming and women’s participation in mediation is not a women’s issue, but one of peace and security. “Women’s participation is not a box that can be ticked by adding one or two women in negotiation teams or creating a separate mechanism where women only have an advisory position,” he added. Women and men must participate on equal terms at all levels of political and peace processes. More women should be appointed as special envoys and senior members of mediation teams. Mediation must be inclusive and take into consideration the needs of all segments of society. The participation of local communities and civil society, including youth organizations, in peace and mediation processes is essential. He urged the Council to stand united in supporting United Nations mediation efforts, giving envoys and mediation teams the leverage they need to succeed — especially in situations that are politically complex.
WU HAITAO (China) underscored the importance of adhering to the United Nations Charter, stressing that the Organization should play a central role in conflict prevention and avail itself more to the Charter’s Chapter VI based on respect for sovereignty and non‑interference. The consent of parties to a conflict must be secured beforehand, with the goal of cooperation. Mediators and parties to the conflict should embrace a vision of a shared future, tackling difficult security issues through dialogue in a manner that brings about mutual benefit and respects the right to “agree to disagree”. The Council should engage in peaceful dispute settlement through political and diplomatic means, providing support and guidance for such activities. The United Nations meanwhile should use the unique influence of the Secretary‑General to mediate disputes. As regional organizations, notably the African Union, enjoy unique advantages, more efforts are required to support them. China has appointed Special Envoys for Asia, Africa and the Middle East, who participate in international conferences and mediation processes, among other activities.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that from an economic viewpoint, mediation has many benefits over peacekeeping or sanctions as it does not hinder development. The United Nations has every opportunity to play a lead role in such efforts, which should align with the Charter, respecting both national responsibility and sovereignty. Using regional bodies for conflict mediation is provided by the Charter’s Article 33, he said, while Chapter VIII encourages resolution of local disputes with their involvement before situations are transmitted to the Council. The United Nations should rely on their experience, and where appropriate, approach mediation through a sensitive division of labour. Highlighting the potential for cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, he cautioned against a duplication of efforts. Mediation hinges on the consent of all parties to the conflict and the impartiality of mediators. Yet, there have been attempts to monopolize mediation efforts and, under their cover, achieve geopolitical goals. Mediation must be based on knowledge of cultural and historic specificities, he said, underscoring the importance of finding bespoke solutions and carefully selecting United Nations mediators by using objective criteria and geographic balance. United Nations mediators must maintain neutrality; reference to certain principles cannot justify any indulgence of a particular party to a conflict and he suggested correcting United Nations guidance for effective mediation in that regard. In the Council, there are often proposals that amount to interference into States’ internal affairs, and attempts to use the 15‑member organ to support one political camp only drags out conflict. He advocated direct dialogue between the sides, through impartial mediation, attempting to find areas of agreement.
RODNEY M. HUNTER (United States), recalling that the late former Secretary‑General Kofi Annan had served as Special Envoy for Syria for five months before stepping down, said, “had the parties listened to Mr. Annan at the time, hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved”. But Mr. Annan, and the Council itself, had found themselves paralysed because the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al‑Assad did not want peace. While meditation is critical, even the world’s greatest mediators “cannot compel anyone to do anything”, and the missing ingredient is often the Council’s own unwillingness to see peace processes succeed. In that context, the United States supports the imposition of real consequences when parties to conflicts are not willing to negotiate. In South Sudan, the Council waited years amid a bloody conflict before imposing sanctions and an arms embargo just last month. The United States repeatedly pushed for those measures, but it was continually told to wait for negotiations to finish. Describing mediation as the United Nations fundamental purpose, he nevertheless cautioned Council members not to be blinded by its prospects. “For mediators, talk is critical, but for [the Council], talk is cheap,” he stressed, calling on its members to be willing to use strong tools to push conflict parties to the negotiating table.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Mediation, said the Council can do much more to support mediation, which should particularly be encouraged before tension escalates into armed conflict. The United Nations Mediation Support Unit must be provided with adequate human and financial resources, and a special account — separate from the regular budget — should be set up for special political missions. The Organization should also keep supporting regional and subregional organizations to reinforce their own mediation tools. Inclusivity and national ownership are key for effective mediation, he said, emphasizing that bottom‑up approaches tend to generate more solid agreements. He underscored the constructive role to be played by women and youth, adding that by firmly supporting the work of the Secretary‑General’s special representatives, the Council can strengthen their roles as mediators and encourage parties to engage seriously in negotiations.
FERIDUN SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Mediation, which consists of 48 Member States, the United Nations, 7 regional organizations, and other international organizations, said that the Group had initiated four General Assembly resolutions to strengthen the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution. He said that it welcomed the Secretary-General’s strong commitment on emphasizing the importance of conflict prevention and resolution, including mediation.
Creating lasting peace requires a comprehensive, inclusive and coordinated approach where different actors of the international community complement one another, he said. This includes not only the United Nations, the Security Council and Member States, but also regional, subregional and local organizations, as well as civil society. Women and youth have an important role in building peace and resilience in their societies. Mediation should not be a closed and competitive field for a few. A greater emphasis should be given to mentoring the next generation of mediators and exchanging experiences with national and local mediators.
MOHAMED OMAR GAD (Egypt) said unilateralism is “a real waste”, demonstrating a lack of respect for the Charter and undermining the global system, rather than helping to find means to reform it. “We have not been able to contain these conflicts” around the world, which some had even used for ideological reasons, he said, stressing the United Nations central role in peaceful dispute settlement. “This is the less costly means, at the human and material level, to deal with threats to peace and security,” he added, pressing the Council to make use of negotiation, mediation, arbitration, judicial settlement and to partner more with regional and other international bodies. It must avoid actions that undermine regional and national measures. He underscored the importance of selecting mediators who are acceptable to all parties, bearing in mind the specific circumstances of each conflict. “We need to be flexible,” he said, bearing in mind changes on the ground.
MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said the fact her country ended five decades of violence demonstrated the value of multilateralism. The notion of mediation has been strengthened over the last decade and the Secretary‑General’s creation of a High‑Level Mediation Advisory Board has made it possible to promote conflict prevention as part‑and‑parcel of diplomacy for peace. In Colombia’s experience, the contribution of neighbouring States and organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) underscored the value of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, she said underscoring women’s essential role in mediation. “Women should be involved before, during and especially following negotiation” in the implementation of an agreement, she said, adding: “When women participate it automatically increases the possibility that peace will be lasting.”
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said humanity has always sought ways to resolve its disputes and conflicts through peaceful mediation. Citing the recent successful examples of mediation in Colombia and between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, she nevertheless said the world seems to be afflicted by ever more complex conflicts. The Secretary‑General’s call for a surge in diplomacy for peace is urgent, as “it costs more to pick up the pieces after a conflict than to prevent one”. Expressing concern about the Council’s increasing tendency to resort to measures under Chapter VII of the Charter, she underscored the important complementarity between Chapters VI and VII, which must be clearly held. While the United Nations has had some successes in mediating political settlements, its record is, “at best, checkered”. The long‑standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains on the Council’s agenda, with the organ having provided that “the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people” expressed through a democratic, free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations. Sadly, that decision and others remain unimplemented to date. “What is at stake is both the Council’s credibility as well as the objective of durable peace in our region,” she stressed, adding: “We must not fail these tests.”
TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) described war as the last argument of sovereignty “when surrender is never an option”. Mediation, however, is a wise preliminary choice that enables States to settle disputes through an exchange of words rather than bullets. With conflicts today being longer and more intractable, with the increasingly indiscriminate use of precision weapons, the case for mediation is even more compelling. Reaffirming his country’s commitment to mediation, he said the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes is eponymous with the Philippines’ desire for peace. When used during key phases of conflict, mediation is a game‑changer, he said, citing his country’s own experience in Mindanao and its negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
AUDRA PLEPYTÉ (Lithuania), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Mediation, welcomed the conceptual shift from conflict management to conflict prevention. “Mediation is an important tool for defusing conflicts or better still, preventing them from happening,” she said. Welcoming the stronger focus towards those ends, she nevertheless expressed concern that, too often, mediation and peace processes remain male-dominated. While women are disproportionately affected by conflict, their critical role in negotiating, keeping and building peace in their communities is often overlooked. Voicing support for efforts to enlarge the pool of high-level envoys and senior mediators with a focus on women mediators, she said the emergence of new crises and the persistence of protracted conflicts mean that international and regional organizations should strengthen their capabilities for effective mediation and dialogue facilitation, with the Council playing a supporting role. Spotlighting the important role of mediation in all stages of the conflict cycle — including its resolution — she said formal mediation efforts are needed after agreements are reached to ensure their implementation, resolve possible disputes that arise and avoid breakdowns or relapses into conflict.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized that international relations should be ruled by law, and not power. Under the United Nations Charter, States have two complementary obligations: first, to refrain from the threat or use of force, and second to settle their disputes by peaceful means. Citing failures in upholding those obligations that need to be rectified as well as “uneven implementations of laws that require adjustments”, he recalled that at the start of this century a country was invaded by a permanent member of the Council in total and blatant violation of the principles of the Charter. Now, that same power pursues a principle of withdrawal from international organizations and agreements — jeopardizing the sanctity of international treaties — and openly invites all Member States to either disobey Council resolution 2231 (2015) on Iran’s nuclear agreement “or face punishment”. “If unchecked, this trend will further tarnish the credibility of the Organization and this Council, eroding the rule of law and leading to disorder,” he said, also warning against the trend of increasingly resorting to action under Chapter VII of the Charter.
GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said mediation is not only about preventing or ending conflict; it is also about building the foundation for durable peace, requiring the inclusion of participants and perspectives beyond the parties to armed conflict. Women must take a meaningful role, he said, citing a 2015 study of 156 peace agreements, which showed a 20 per cent increase in the likelihood of an agreement lasting two years when women were involved, and a 35 per cent increase in the likelihood of one lasting 15 years. Ensuring that perpetrators of atrocity crimes face justice removes the most likely spoilers of a peace agreement from post‑conflict society. When mediation does not address serious crimes, it denies victims the opportunity to heal. Finding peaceful means to address “self-governance” situations should be a focus area for the United Nations conflict prevention and resolution architecture, he said, suggesting that field missions could support early local mediation in such situations by offering to facilitate dialogue on self‑governance between the State and affected community.
LOUISE BLAIS (Canada) underscored the importance of women’s involvement in mediation and peacebuilding efforts. Women’s involvement is associated with much higher rates of implementation once an agreement is reached. The United Nations, subregional organizations and civil society are already doing excellent work to involve women in mediation efforts. Highlighting women’s engagement in Burundi, South Sudan and Mali, she said youth and women‑led initiatives illustrate what effective conflict mediation looks like on the ground, day‑to‑day. It takes the form of community peace dialogues, early warning monitoring, information dissemination and dispelling false rumours, as well as active political engagement. From Colombia to Yemen, mediation and dialogue efforts that include women and youth have succeeded in reaching breakthroughs that would not have otherwise been possible. Despite the progress, however, prejudice and intimidation too often deter women and youth from participating in peace processes. Hence, the United Nations, regional organizations and civil society must engage and empower women and youth so that they can be architects of lasting peace, she stressed.
SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan), remembering Kofi Annan as “a role model for the art of mediation”, said her country supports all means to strengthen United Nations mediation efforts in all conflict zones. The longer a conflict drags on, the more difficult it is to resolve it, with innocent people being the biggest losers. That was clear in the Middle East, she said, calling on the international community to step up mediation efforts in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Emphasizing the importance of finding individuals and parties who can build on sustainable solutions, she said Jordan — with its balanced foreign policy — is a beacon of wisdom and moderation, as seen in its principled position in the Syrian crisis. For mediation to succeed, root causes must be taken into account and tolerance, justice and coexistence promoted. She went on to stress the need for Council unity in providing political and moral support to mediators.
TORE HATTREM (Norway), also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said that while solving disputes remains the primary responsibility of Member States, the Security Council has an important role. He encouraged the Council to make full use of its mandate to engage in, support and promote mediation efforts, as it did by providing united support for the Colombia peace process. The increasing complexity of today’s conflicts poses challenges for United Nations peacemaking efforts, he said, underscoring the complex relationship between sanctions and peace processes.
Underscoring the important role of regional organizations, he expressed support for strengthening relationships between the African Union and the United Nations. He also expressed concern over the low number of women participating in mediation efforts, welcoming the Secretary-General’s efforts to rectify the gap. “We hope that the emerging cooperation between the regional networks of women mediators and the United Nations will lead to more inclusive peace processes,” he added. The Council’s efforts to manage conflicts should be tailored to support political solutions to conflicts. “Mediation is not a quick fix one-size-fits-all approach,” he continued. Social and economic development remains crucial to addressing the root causes of conflict.
JORGE SKINNER-KLEÉ ARENALES (Guatemala) underscored the importance of settling disputes peacefully. Although mediation is one of the most important tools, it is rarely implemented at an early stage of the development of a potential source of conflict. When international law recognizes mediation as one of the most important means to prevent or resolve disputes or conflicts, it does so on the basis that any effort predicated on mediation must take into account the root causes of the conflict. Effective mediation produces positive results when the aforementioned circumstances are properly considered so that efforts are not misdirected or wasted. There is no silver bullet in mediation methods. Sustaining peace also means engaging everyday people to ensure that social discontent is not exacerbated into conflict.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) noted with regret the United Nations and the Council’s inability to act properly and robustly to address the blatant violation of his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As a result, the Russian Federation’s aggression against his country continues unabated for the fifth year. Ukraine remains committed to a peaceful resolution of this conflict. It has lodged a declaration under the Rome Statute to enable the International Criminal Court to exercise its jurisdiction over war crimes committed since the beginning of the military aggression against Ukraine. A more proactive approach to mediation on the part of the United Nations is needed. “By shying away from the issues considered too hot or sensitive, the United Nations is doing nothing less than undermining its own standing,” he said.
Martín García Moritán (Argentina) underscored the obligation of Member States under the United Nations Charter to peacefully resolve disputes. Noting the Secretary‑General’s emphasis on preventative diplomacy, he said the complexity of today’s disputes called for a multidisciplinary approach, including contributions of regional and subregional organizations as well as the participation of women. When the United Nations urges parties to negotiate, they must do so in good faith. States not party to a dispute must avoid conduct that might hinder a solution. He added that it is inappropriate for the validity of a mediation mandate given to the Secretary-General to be contingent on the consent of the parties to a dispute.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) recalled that under his delegation’s April 2009 presidency in the Security Council, the organ held a meeting to discuss the same subject as today and adopted a presidential statement. He noted that one of the three pillars of United Nations reform is a review of peacekeeping operations, which includes placing prevention and mediation at the heart of the Organization’s work. Mexico prides itself in playing a key role in regional mediation efforts, including the situation in El Salvador, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The efficient use of Chapter VI tools is crucial. He invited the Council to adapt mediation tools to the changing nature of conflicts, and help build mediation capacity at the local, regional and international level. Women represent only 2 per cent of mediators. A High‑Level Advisory Panel appointed by the Secretary‑General can help reverse this underrepresentation.
JOANNE ADAMSON of the European Union said that, with a long history in promoting and exercising peace, the bloc today is engaged in 40 mediation or dialogue processes worldwide, sometimes taking a lead role, as in facilitating Belgrade and Pristina dialogue, and sometimes discretely, as in reaching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. It sought to increase joint initiatives, including with the United Nations and the African Union. The recent United Nations-World Bank report “Pathways for Peace” made a convincing business case for conflict prevention, finding that greater preventive action could save $70 billion a year. The Council can be a powerful force to use mediation early on and should place preventive mediation at its heart. From the highest levels to the local actors, peace processes must involve elites and local levels alike. Young people’s involvement is another precondition for success. “Today, we have the technical means to better support mediation,” he said, noting the missing ingredient is political support, which is where the Council could play a crucial role.
JÜRGEN SCHULZ (Germany), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Mediation, said the need to resolve conflicts peacefully is becoming more urgent as pressure on the global order intensifies. The Security Council has a decisive role to play, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and when it decides to entrust the Secretary-General or another actor with mediating a dispute, it must also provide political support and give the parties adequate space to pursue conflict resolution. Adherence to certain standards and principles is critical when designing and conducting mediation processes, he said, noting that mediation plays a key role in Germany’s national efforts towards peaceful crisis resolution. In Yemen, where the world’s worst humanitarian crisis is unfolding, what is needed most is a political solution. Germany, therefore, supports the United Nations efforts to that end, and continues to finance and facilitate Track II dialogues, local mediation and reconciliation, and wherever possible, small-scale stabilization measures. In Darfur and Sudan, Germany also supports the ongoing mediation efforts of the Joint Special Representative and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to reach a lasting peace agreement.
JORGE MORAGAS SÁNCHEZ (Spain) highlighted how the United Nations has managed to prevent many conflicts behind the scenes, but nonetheless conflicts still exist. Today’s conflicts are complex, with numerous factors contributing to them, such as territorial disputes, competition over natural resources such as water, domestic divides, and the threat of terrorism to regions. This speaks to the need to adapt mediation approaches to the changing nature of conflicts. A key requirement for successful mediation is consent of all parties and negotiation in good faith, inclusive of the process. In some cases, mediation is not always the best response to conflicts. It could be more of a hindrance than a help. The United Nations must fine‑tune its existing mediation structure and mount joint and unified responses to prevent and resolve conflicts. Prevention is a priority.
YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said his country has for many years played a positive role in aiding the peaceful settlement of disputes. Regarding the Mindanao conflict in the Philippines, Japan contributed to a peace agreement between the Government and a former anti‑Government armed group by hosting a meeting of the parties. His country also deployed experts to the international monitoring team to observe the ceasefire and the socioeconomic situation and to provide community development and other support to help sustain peace in the conflict areas. It is encouraging to see the efforts of African regional and subregional organizations and others engaging actively in the negotiations or dialogues among all relevant actors to resolve conflicts on the continent. He also stressed the need to avoid redundancy in initiatives, which will require appropriate engagement at different levels and between Headquarters and the field.
ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia), associating herself with the European Union, focused on the situation in her country, saying the Geneva international discussions and the incident prevention and response mechanisms have helped to prevent a wide-scale escalation of its conflict with the Russian Federation. However, those processes have failed to produce tangible and substantial results, she said, emphasizing the importance of neutral and good-faith mediation, as well as concrete measures to prevent the procedural misuse of mediating platforms. Moreover, mediators should strive to be defenders of the basic principles of international law and the rules‑based international system. She stressed the importance of engaging more women in conflict resolution, noting that, in Georgia, more than 65 per cent of those involved in peace processes, including mediation, are women.
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, said the duty of States to settle their differences peacefully is clearly set forth in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter and countless other international instruments. Commending the Secretary-General’s calls for a “surge in diplomacy for peace”, as well as the tangible action of forming a High-Level Advisory Council on Mediation, he said ongoing United Nations reforms in the management, peace and security and development strands will help to strengthen the Organization’s holistic approach to conflict resolution. Citing non‑proliferation, legal accountability of those responsible for mass atrocity crimes and follow-up actions of transition processes during post-conflict periods as highly relevant issues, he called for the further enhancement of national capabilities to better support United Nations Special Envoys, greater international cooperation and complementarity in mediation and conflict resolution, and deeper engagement with civil society, women and young people.
MAGDI AHMED MOFADAL ELNOUR (Sudan) hailed regional efforts to peacefully resolve disputes, particularly by the African Union, which has achieved tangible results in finding African solutions to African problems. Regional and subregional organizations and neighbouring countries are best placed and the most capable to act as mediators, particularly when conflicts become more complex and spill over borders. Welcoming partnership between the African Union and the United Nations, he also underscored the role of IGAD in finding a solution to the conflict in South Sudan.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that intergovernmental organizations are hindered by complex decision-making. Inevitably Member States tend to speak with different voices. Policymaking within an international organization adds another layer of bargaining and trade-offs. Such a torturous decision-making process, imbued with political trade-offs, saps the United Nations of necessary dynamism and flexibility in pursing mediation. Since the problems are functional, it may be more realistic to look at functional solutions rather than structural ones. Rather than try and saddle the United Nations with responsibilities that it is ill-suited to perform, it may be better to look at alternative solutions which use the competencies of the United Nations more judiciously. Mediation, in every circumstance, is one such task the Organization is not geared to fulfil. Pakistan’s delegate made a reference to a region in India. He urged the new Government of Pakistan to contribute to regional stability, free of terror.
GHEORGHE NECULA (Romania) said mediation should not be employed alone, but rather, as part of a more structural approach that involved early warning, preventive diplomacy and analysis of the causes of conflict. Cooperation and coherence among mediation actors are essential. Strengthening partnerships inside the United Nations is also important and he welcomed greater cooperation between the Council and Peacebuilding Commission, while stressing there could be no progress without the involvement of women and youth. Noting that Romania would support strengthening the European Union peace mediation capacities, he said mediation is not simply an “automatic” process of bringing parties to a negotiating table, but must rather be part of a broader culture of building mutual trust and understanding.
GERT AUVAART (Estonia) said it is important to anticipate and react timely to emerging and existing conflicts. The establishment of the High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation is an important step in the right direction, he said, also emphasizing the essential work of the Department of Political Affairs in the field of prevention and mediation. Stressing the need to ensure that women are included at decision-making levels and appointed as high-level mediators, he noted his country’s contribution to the peaceful settlements of disputes in Lebanon, Mali and beyond. It is essential to take note of early warning signs of tension and conflict, he continued, highlighting that Estonia recently became a member of the Peacebuilding Commission.
BRYAN FLYNN (Ireland) said inclusivity is vital to successful mediation. However, despite evidence that women’s involvement in negotiations can lead to comprehensive peace agreements, they comprised just 2 per cent of mediators in major peace processes between 1990 and 2017. “This simply must change,” he said, underscoring the need to better recognize and resource women mediators and to connect grass‑roots-level mediation with processes at the national high level. Advocating improved capacity and resources for conflict prevention, he said Ireland has invested $19.26 million in the Peacebuilding Fund since 2006, and €2.2 million in extra-budgetary support to the mediation support unit since 2008. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and he recognized the critical work of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition in the long negotiations leading to that outcome. The Council has a particular responsibility to support the United Nations enhanced use of mediation to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts, he said, advocating a “quantum leap” in the financing of peacebuilding and conflict prevention work, and urging the Council to support activities that address the root causes of conflict.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) said that there are two types of conflicts, one being disputes between States and the other being internal disputes due mainly to political differences. His country is facing the latter. Today’s civil war is the result of many challenges. As the Secretary-General pointed out in a report, there are fragmented armed groups, which make it difficult to mediate. Internal conflict is very complex, different from past conflicts. A solution requires a comprehensive view of the situation and clear planning. His delegation welcomes any United Nations mediation effort. The peace process must be Libyan-owned, and therefore any foreign intervention will only obstruct mediation efforts.
AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said that pacific dispute settlement cannot be forced. Parties must be persuaded by the merits of mediation and well supported in peace processes. Mediation must take place within normative and legal frameworks constituted by international law and humanitarian law, and respect for the Charter and relevant United Nations resolutions. Reiterating that all United Nations organs must uphold their commitment to the sovereign equality of States and respect their territorial integrity, he described best practices for mediation, notably preparedness, impartiality and consent of the conflicting parties. A sense of inclusivity is also needed, as is national ownership and leadership if the parties to a conflict — and society as a whole — are to work towards peace. Effective mediation also requires gender equality and women’s empowerment, he added.
Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Council should ensure that mediation is wielded with full respect for international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Noting with growing alarm the Council’s tendency to hastily invoke Chapter VII, she said recent cases had demonstrated that mediation cannot succeed in the absence of good faith, impartiality and respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Each situation must be appreciated in accordance with its unique characteristics, she said, emphasizing the need to ensure the consent of parties to a dispute, as well as the impartiality of mediators. She welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to strengthen the Organization’s mediation support capacity, adding, however, that the role assigned to non-governmental organizations, civil societies and others drafted in to support mediation and conflict prevention must be meticulously assessed. Upholding peace agreements was not only the responsibility of parties to a conflict, but also of the entire international community, including the Security Council.
MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti) said mediation is “not for amateurs”, welcoming the creation of a platform for experience‑sharing and learning among members of the IGAD roster of mediators, the African Union members of the Panel of the Wise and members of other organizations. Mediation cannot succeed when one of the parties refuses to appoint representatives, does not appear for meetings or elects not to cooperate with the mediator’s fact-finding efforts. And there must be accountability, and a time limit. His country has proposed that the Secretary‑General undertake a new time-limited mediation effort to achieve a final settlement between Djibouti and Eritrea, and if it is impossible to reach, the dispute will be submitted to binding arbitration or the International Court of Justice.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said today’s discussion was very timely and was necessary because the topic was last discussed 10 years ago, and things have since changed. To be successful, mediation efforts must take into account sovereignty and territorial integrity. Such efforts must be backed by the consent of all parties, ensuring their full participation, and they must be inclusive, with women and youth being part of the process. Mediators must draw a strategy considering the root causes of conflicts. His country is committed to playing a key mediation role in Africa and the Middle East. The framework of the Spanish-Moroccan Initiative on Mediation in the Mediterranean was one such example. Mediators must know the intricacies of conflicts and effort must be guided by clear parameters.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said his delegation considers conflict prevention a priority, and has organized different conferences to create contacts and cooperation. Such efforts include the holding of events to bring political and humanitarian mediation actors together, and a seminar to actively promote the participation of women, particularly female mediators in Africa, and the participation of youth. He stressed the need to bridge mediation efforts and peacekeeping operations, welcoming the Secretary-General initiative to increase mediation expertise in peacekeeping operations. The Council has a role to play which includes advocating for an integrated approach and sending a strong political message while supporting the Secretary-General in his mediation effort.
MARIANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy), associating herself with the European Union, said it is crucial to strengthen the mediation capacity of United Nations missions in the field. Noting that Italy has scaled up its contribution to the Department of Political Affairs’ mediation efforts, she said her country is also partnering with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote women’s participation in peace processes. She encouraged the Secretary-General to exert his powers under article 99 of the Charter, adding that the Council should be briefed more often by civil society partners. The United Nations should also strengthen its partnerships with regional and subregional organizations in the area of mediation, she said, emphasizing that mediation can only produce sustainable and lasting solutions if it is inclusive.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Friends of Mediation, cited positive mediation examples set by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), among other missions, to achieve dialogue at the local level. Special political missions have proven useful in that regard, he said, noting that they can help build a repository of good practices for future work. To be effective, mediation must pass the rigours of transparency and objectivity, and the importance of buy-in by the concerned parties cannot be overstated. Ad hoc and poorly coordinated mediation efforts — even when launched with the best intentions — are not likely to advance the cause of durable peace. Voicing Bangladesh’s commitment to supporting mediation efforts between some of its neighbours, he added that it remains open to any constructive efforts by interested parties in helping to resolve the humanitarian crisis among Rohingya refugees to which his country has unwittingly been made a party.
SAMUEL MONCADA ACOSTA (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the challenges facing the international community must be addressed by all nations through multilateralism. The Movement has historically been an advocate for the peaceful resolution of disputes, the non-resort to the threat or use of force, and for a greater use of the provisions laid out in the United Nations Charter. Rule of law is the cornerstone not only to the peaceful settlement of disputes, but also to the maintenance of international peace and security.
He stressed the importance of the consent of all concerned parties for ensuring the success and legitimacy of any mediation process, if the ultimate goal is to truly achieve durable, inclusive and comprehensive settlements. The Movement remains committed to enhancing its status as an anti-war, peace-loving force. He reaffirmed the Movement’s determination to strengthen its role in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution, confidence‑building and post-conflict peacebuilding, and rehabilitation in or between Non-Aligned Movement countries.
LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya), stressing that “mediation cannot succeed in isolation”, said it is also important to invest in conflict prevention, trust building, post-conflict development and the establishment of clear and inclusive mandates to guide mediation processes. Welcoming the revamped and expanded High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation, he, nevertheless, said the body needs more resources. Both voluntary and assessed funds should be used to support mediation and preventive diplomacy, as it is usually costlier to resolve a conflict than to prevent it. Kenya has for decades been at the centre of regional peace processes, having chaired several and worked with its neighbours on many peace initiatives. Calling on the United Nations to continue to support such work, he underlined the need to include more women in peace processes — including mediation and conflict prevention efforts — and to leverage technology towards better, timelier early warning mechanisms. He also spotlighted the crucial role of regional and subregional organizations, especially the African Union, IGAD, ECOWAS and others, and called for adequate and predictable resources as well as national ownership.
SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Friends of Mediation, outlined some of his country’s mediation efforts at the regional level. Among other roles, Malaysia serves as facilitator of efforts to bring peace in the southern Philippines, which led to the signing of a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moso Islamic Liberation Front in 2014. Emphasizing the need to focus on prevention and early warning systems, he said regional organizations should be involved in monitoring the situation in conflict-prone areas. At the heart of resolving various conflicts around the globe is the need to address their root causes, be they political, economic or others. It is equally critical to help countries avoid relapsing into conflict. States emerging from conflict should be assisted and their capacity built up, he said.
ONDINA BLOKAR DROBIČ (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Mediation, echoed other speakers in emphasizing that Chapter VI of the Charter should be used more often. Urging the Council to explore ways of identifying crises and risks to international peace and security as early as possible — and addressing them accordingly — she stressed that “mediation pays off many times over”. Advocating for a culture of peace and dialogue, together with respect for human rights and international law, lies at the core of Slovenian foreign policy. Describing some of its recent work in those areas — including promoting mediation through the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network — she described women as agents of change who are well aware of what their communities need, and who must therefore be integral parts of preventive and other mediation processes.
ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said mediation can only be effective if it is objective, inclusive and impartial. The United Nations must enhance its diagnostic capabilities to ensure that the right mediation tools are used for specific situations. The Organization can also appoint more women mediators, he said. Inclusiveness must also be achieved at Headquarters, he said, with greater “oneness” in the design and implementation of mediation efforts. He went on to emphasize the need to ensure maximum objective and impartiality in managing and implementing peace efforts, both in the Department of Political Affairs and in the field.
WOUTER HOFMEYR ZAAYMAN (South Africa) said that the Council has arguably become most effective in dealing with conflict through the deployment of peacekeepers and the imposition of measures outlined in Chapter VII. This may at times be tantamount to putting a bandage on a festering wound. “What we ought to be doing is preventing the wound from occurring in the first place, and if it does, to ensure that the necessary measures are in place to deal with it,” he stressed. The promotion of the peaceful resolution of conflict continues to be a cornerstone of South Africa’s foreign policy. This is born out of its historical experience in successfully and peacefully transitioning to a constitutional democracy based on respect for human rights for all. He further emphasized the vital role of women in mediation, peacemaking and post-conflict reconstruction. “Without adequate representation of women in these efforts, the credibility of these processes is undermined,” he added.
POLLY IOANNOU (Cyprus) said that mediation is an important tool for the peaceful settlement of disputes. At the core of the United Nations involvement in mediation should be the inviolable rule of conducting the process based on the Organization’s values and principles. As a mediator, the United Nations must not be intrusive, but should respect the boundaries of third-party facilitation and assist the parties as they themselves shape the resolution of their dispute. As experience has demonstrated, acrimony and blame games can arise from mediation proposals that the parties are called upon to accept or reject. United Nations mediators must tread carefully, be cognizant of the complexities of a dispute, and know the realm of the feasible. “Successful mediation necessitates deep knowledge of local circumstances,” she added, emphasizing the important role of women in conflict resolution.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said the Security Council, through its resolutions reaffirmed that the Nagorno-Karabakh region, is an integral part of his country and demanded the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from that region. Unfortunately, key Council demands have still not been implemented and the mediation efforts over the past 26 years within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have yet to yield results. The military occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Azerbaijani territories do not represent a solution and will never bring peace, reconciliation and stability.
BERNADITO AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, recalled Pope John Paul II’s mediation efforts in a dispute between Argentina and Chile in the 1970s, which helped the two nations build a stable foundation for fraternal coexistence. More recently, Colombia set another example of the need to leave open avenues of mediation to settle disputes. Pope Francis frames the idea of mediation as part of a “culture of encounter”, which leads to mutual respect and understanding in the normal interactions between people. The culture of encounter places the human person at the centre of all political, social and economic activity, ensuring that he or she enjoys the highest standard of dignity and respect for the common good. Emphasizing the importance of fair, impartial mediation processes, he asked whether the lack of such impartial, unselfish and mutually trustworthy mediators contributes to the failure of many conflict parties around the world to turn to mediation as a way to resolve their problems. “Trustworthiness is the mediator’s greatest asset,” he stressed, noting that he or she must be able to identify parties’ specific interests and guide them beyond those, towards mutual understandings that support the common good.
Mr. FAVRE (Switzerland), stressing his country’s experience in and partnerships with the United Nations in mediation, said the approach offers a valuable tool for achieving peaceful dispute settlement. However, it is not a blanket remedy. It hinged on the free will of the parties to conflict, who should be willing to contribute to it. Timing is important. Mediation must be conducted “when the time is right for settlement”. Equally important is that mediation is genuinely inclusive of those both working for peace and those affected by it, with the latter consulted at numerous phases of the process. For its part, the Council is well positioned to influence and deliver the necessary conditions, as was the case in Yemen, when its mention of possible sanctions helped the mediator persuade belligerents. The imposition of sanctions, however, could complicate mediation. Sanctions targeting entire groups would likely stigmatize them, complicating a mediator’s job. Sanctions could also affect the perception of United Nations impartiality and he recommended assiduously assessing their impact in areas where the Organization is conducting complementary activities. The peaceful dispute settlement relied on the professionalism of the mediator, the Zurich Polytechnic School is now pursuing a masters’ degree in mediation.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the United Nations needs to make full use of preventative diplomacy, good offices and mediation, while also helping States to improve their capacity to address root causes of conflict. For its part, the Security Council must remain united in pursuing the peaceful resolution of disputes. He reaffirmed the vital importance of regional organizations, citing efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to build confidence and establish a regional code of conduct. He went on to urged concerned parties to a dispute or conflict to comply with international law and refrain from any action that might escalate tension.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Mediation, said mediation does not substitute for other tools in preventing conflict, but, rather, complements them. Drawing attention to the General Assembly’s resolution on mediation, co-sponsored by Turkey and Finland, and adopted every two years, she welcomed United Nations efforts to stay updated with the nature of threats. She also welcomed that its mediation agenda is making progress under the Standby Team of Mediation Advisers, commending the Secretary‑General for prioritizing preventive diplomacy and working to improve the Organization’s performance in that regard. She cited the role of civil society and the private sector, as successful strategies hinged on identifying and engaging the right stakeholders. Qatar’s experience in the Arab and Islamic world has led to successful dispute‑settlement, efforts that have been recognized by the Council. It will continue its work to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, she said, welcoming efforts by the Amir of Kuwait to resolve the Gulf crisis and enhance the region’s security.
AMIERA OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) said that the United Nations has historically played, and will continue to play, a vital role in the peaceful settlement of disputes, expressing support for the Secretary-General’s high-level advisory board for mediation. Mediation efforts must be inclusive, particularly of women, she said, urging the United Nations and the Council to work closely with regional organizations in seeking lasting political solutions. She concluded her remarks by quoting Mr. Annan: “It may seem sometimes as if a culture of peace does not stand a chance against the culture of war, the culture of violence and the cultures of impunity and intolerance. Peace may indeed be a complex challenge, dependent on action in many fields and even a bit of luck from time to time. It may be a painfully slow process, and fragile and imperfect when it is achieved. But, peace is in our hands. We can do it.”
DENIS REGIS (Haiti) said the concept of mediation is not new to the United Nations agenda. Citing increasingly complex threats to international peace and security, including escalating terrorism and the links between conflict and poverty, he said all stakeholders must work harder to sustain peace and prevent conflicts. Indeed, one great deficiency of the international community is its inertia. The Council, in particular, has shown how divided it can be when the divergent interests of its five permanent members are at stake, and the veto use strips the Organization of its ability to settle conflicts and address unacceptable violations of human rights. Seven years of civil war in Syria is a particularly tragic example, he said, urging Member States to examine the cynicism which has long fed the Council’s inaction. “The United Nations often takes too long to take action, and we have not been there when people needed us,” he said. The Secretary‑General had reminded the Organization that more preventive diplomacy is needed, and Haiti strongly supports such efforts as mediation which can help sustain peace. According to some statistics, between 1945 and 1995, mediation accounted for only a fourth of all the United Nations operations. More must be done to increase the prominence of prevention and mediation in the Organization’s future work, he said.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) agreed that mediation can be a critical tool for resolving existing conflicts and preventing new ones, paving the way for durable peace, development and cooperation. Regional and subregional organizations — which often have local knowledge and expertise, as well as tailored tools — play a crucial role in mediation, he said. For any mediation process to be credible and effective, it must be consent-based and duly mandated with a deep understanding of the root causes and the anatomy of the conflict. Welcoming the unwavering and continued support of the United Nations system to the mediation efforts of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group in its work to peacefully settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, he also called for efforts to strengthen the role of women in peace and security. In 2017, Armenia set up an interministerial working group to elaborate a national action plan on the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on that matter, he said.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji) said his country is on the front lines of a new driver of conflict: climate change, which increases competition for land and resources, forcing families and entire communities to relocate. Related to this is the rising of oceans, which are under greater stress from acidification and illegal fishing, among other factors. Conflicts between coastal communities, coastal and non-coastal areas, and among coastal communities, Governments and the private sector, could spill into inter-State conflicts. Climate change and rising sea levels are introducing grave water stress, with many countries in the Pacific now in a serious drought. Managing water distribution and drought recovery also fuels conflict. These new drivers are likely to move into full-blown intercommunity conflict, and could spill into inter‑State dispute, the costs of which could wipe away the resources of small island developing States. He pressed the Council to recognize climate and ocean stress as conflict drivers and reposition the United Nations to support communities in mediating those issues.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said resolving disputes and entrenching security requires common political will, stressing: “We must respect the foundations of relationships between countries”, which include good neighbourliness and honouring international obligations. Special political missions meet many needs in a flexible manner and “do what they can” to support their partners in sustaining peace. The international community must provide them “every possible support” so they can continue to carry out their work. The Council should advance mediation and dialogue, while also working with the parties to conflict, he said, stressing that respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs is vital to security. Mediation will only succeed if parties respect the principles of good neighbourliness and non-interference.
KHALIFA ALI ISSA AL HARTHY (Oman), associating with the Group of Friends on Mediation, said his country resolves disagreements through mutual understanding. Credibility, sustainability and “standing at an equal distance from all disputing parties” are important qualities for mediators. Each party should have its minimum demands and aspirations met, he said, noting that dialogue is the best means to resolve disputes. Oman has assumed its regional and international role, demonstrating its willingness to help resolve issues in the region, in collaboration with international organizations and the countries concerned. Diplomacy must be advanced in order to avoid further loss and destruction. He pressed the Council, the Secretary-General and peace-loving countries to synergize such efforts.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Mediation and the Non-Aligned Movement, said everyone should do their utmost to ensure concrete outcomes from peacebuilding resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly. Calling for more frequent use of Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, he said dialogue and mediation must be pursued on the basis of international law, justice and fair play. The Organization should engage more with regional and subregional organizations, and conflict prevention and mediation should be supported by more reliable resourcing and capacities. He underlined the need to resolve the root causes of conflict in a just and even-handed manner, with the Council fulfilling its role in line with Charter principles, international law and international humanitarian law.
SAAD AHMAD WARRAICH (Pakistan), taking the floor a second time, responded to the statement delivered by India’s delegate. Expressing surprise that the delegate had chosen this remarkable setting to levy allegations against his country, and to describe “yet another flight of fancy”, he said that India’s occupation of Jammu and Kashmir continues despite multiple Council resolutions to the contrary. India should recognize that the United Nations is not “ill-suited” to undertake the resolution of disputes. Instead, it is India that refuses to acknowledge its ability to do so.