New York

11 December 2012

Secretary-General's message to "Imagination and Integrity: Mediation in Building Institutions" event

His Excellency Marten Grunditz, Mr. John Barkat.

As we mark ten years of informal conflict resolution in the United Nations, I am pleased to send my best wishes to all who have gathered for this special event on “Imagination and Integrity: Mediation in Building Institutions.”

I thank Ambassador Grunditz, the Permanent Representative of Sweden for organizing this event.  My greetings also go to Assistant Secretary-General John Barkat, the UN Ombudsman, and all his staff, on this important occasion, for their hard work.

Today, we celebrate a decade of achievement by the Office of Ombudsman, which has been a reliable source of impartial and independent service to United Nations staff members coping with workplace conflict.

True to its founding mandate, the Ombudsman’s Office has based its work on the core principles of independence, impartiality, informality and confidentiality. Staff can confidently come to the Ombudsman knowing that their situations will be handled with the sensitivity and care they deserve.

While its fundamental values have not changed, the Office has evolved since its early days. I am grateful to the Office for its constructive role in the overhaul of the United Nations administration of justice system in 2009. I also appreciate the work of the regional branches in Bangkok, Geneva, Nairobi, Santiago and Vienna. And I thank those personnel in Entebbe and Kinshasa who provide informal conflict resolution services to staff in peacekeeping missions.

Interest in resolving issues through mediation is growing. The caseload of the Ombudsman’s Office has increased dramatically -- from fewer than 140 cases in 2002 to more than ten times as many – 1,588 – by the end of 2011. The results are as impressive as the numbers, with some 80 per cent of mediated cases yielding a successful outcome.

Beyond mediating individual cases, the Ombudsman’s Office provides important feedback on systemic issues and root causes of conflict. The observations and recommendations produced by the Office help us foster better working conditions across the United Nations.

Taken together, these accomplishments strengthen our Organization so that it can better serve the world’s people.

I congratulate you on this anniversary of the Ombudsman’s Office, and I count on you to continue building a tradition of excellence in informal conflict resolution at the United Nations that will endure for decades to come.