Welcome. Let me begin by thanking the Friends of Mediation, in particular the co-chairs Finland and Turkey, for co-hosting today’s launch of the United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation.
The Group of Friends has played a pivotal role in highlighting the importance of mediation and in supporting the development of this Guidance.
The peaceful settlement of disputes and conflicts is a central principle of the Charter of the United Nations and a raison d’être of the Organisation.
Article 33 of the Charter identifies mediation as an important means to prevent, manage and resolve disputes; and it has proven to be an effective instrument to address both inter-state and intra-state conflict.
As the Secretary-General emphasized when he recently presented his Mediation Report to the General Assembly, “We need to have the know-how, the operational dexterity, and the partnerships to undertake mediation professionally and effectively.”
The General Assembly recognized this in its landmark resolution last year by asking the Secretary General to develop guidance for effective mediation. And the Secretary-General has made strengthening mediation and prevention a priority for the coming five years.
In developing the Guidance, the Secretariat has worked to formulate practical, realistic guidance, drawing from the best minds and practitioners, and consulting widely and in-depth.
The Guidance reflects the vast and diverse experiences of the United Nations system, Member States, regional, sub-regional and other organizations, non-governmental organizations, women’s groups, religious leaders, the academic community as well as mediators and mediation specialists.
The Guidance aims to capture good practice and address several major issues, including the need for a more professional approach; the requirement for coordination, coherence and complementarity among mediation actors; and the need for mediation efforts to be more inclusive, in particular with regard to the participation of women.
This Guidance is a relevant reference document not just for mediators but for all actors involved in mediation. This includes the conflict parties themselves, as it is important to generate a common understanding of the parameters of mediation and what is potentially involved.
Now that we have this Guidance, the key question is what are we going to do with it?
I hope that together we can follow through and operationalize it.
We will constantly seek to live up to its expectations, but we cannot do it alone.
By virtue of the wide consultations, I hope we have managed to mobilize a broad coalition to push for the fundamental tenets of the Guidance and help us achieve and maintain the highest possible standards.
I would like to highlight the services that the UN Department of Political Affairs’s Mediation Support Unit can provide to support your mediation or facilitation initiatives.
This includes tailor-made analysis and advice and a standby team of mediation experts who can be deployed at
72 hours’ notice.
In some instances this work is high profile, in other cases it is quiet and goes unreported. The nature of the engagement is entirely determined by the specific mediation need.
We will soon be re-launching the UN Peacemaker, an online mediation support tool, which includes a comprehensive database of peace agreements as well as technical resources and guidance material.
However, to make sure that you always have the Guidance on hand, we have produced a free mobile App in all six languages of the United Nations!
So have your Blackberries and iPhones ready!
Once again, my thanks to all of you for your engagement. I look forward to the discussion ahead.