What's In Blue

Posted Tue 28 Aug 2018

Mediation and Settlement of Disputes Open Debate

Tomorrow (29 August), there will be an open debate of the Security Council on mediation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Secretary-General António Guterres; Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is a member of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation; and Mossarat Qadeem, co-founder of PAIMAN Alumni Trust, a civil society organisation which works to prevent violent extremism in Pakistan, are expected to brief. The UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad, will chair the meeting. The UK is planning to produce a chair’s summary of the debate.

According to a concept note circulated by the UK, the debate is intended to provide member states with the opportunity to consider the role of the UN in both “leading and supporting inclusive mediation efforts, how it can be strengthened, and how the Security Council and Member States can best support these efforts”. How the Council can support mediation at many different levels, ranging from the local to the international level, is likely to be a core theme of the discussion.

Guterres is expected to describe his efforts to strengthen mediation in the UN, a pledge he made during his first briefing to the Council, an open debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace on 10 January 2017, during Sweden’s presidency of the Council (S/PV.7857). In this regard, he will most likely refer to the work of mediation structures such as the High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation, which he established in September 2017; the Mediation Support Unit; and the Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisors. He will probably emphasise his willingness to support the work of the Council through his good offices. Guterres may underscore that mediation occurs international, regionally, national and sub-nationally; he may describe how the UN system engages at these different levels. He will mostly likely underscore the role of women in mediation, and he might refer to initiatives such as the African Women Leaders Network and the Nordic Women Mediators network.

Welby may discuss the work of the High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. He will further note the role that religious organisations can and do play in mediation processes.

Qadeem is expected to emphasise the importance of inclusivity in mediation, focusing on the impact of women mediators. Qadeem may talk about the activities of her organisation, the PAIMAN Alumni Trust, and the role of women in promoting de-radicalisation in areas of Pakistan affected by violent extremism.

The concept note poses several questions to help guide the discussion. These include:

  • How can the Security Council more effectively support mediation?
  • What is the most effective approach to building mediation capacity at the local, national, sub-national, regional and international levels?
  • How can the Security Council, the wider UN membership and the UN in general support mediation efforts spearheaded by regional and sub-regional organisations?
  • How can UN field missions best support local mediation and conflict resolution?
  • How can the Security Council, the wider UN membership and the UN more broadly enhance the meaningful participation of women in mediation and conflict resolution?

All of these issues are likely to be addressed to varying degrees during tomorrow’s meeting. Some members may emphasise the role of the Council in the pacific settlement of disputes, as outlined in Chapter VI of the UN Charter. In this respect, they might note that the Council is empowered, when it deems necessary, to call upon parties to settle their disputes through such means as “negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice”, in accordance with article 33 of the Charter. Members may also discuss how the Council supports mediation processes in peace operations, given its mandating and oversight responsibilities.

Like the briefers, several members are expected to emphasise the importance of inclusivity in mediation processes—including through the involvement of women and youth mediators—in different phases of the “peace continuum”, which encompasses conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and long-term development. The need to increase the participation of women in prevention diplomacy, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding has been consistently reiterated by the Council in its outcomes since the adoption of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in 2000. Similarly, the Council adopted resolution 2419 this June, reaffirming the role that youth and youth-led civil society can play in peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

Additionally, some members may underscore the need for predictable, sustainable funding for mediation. In this respect, there may be a call for increased financial support for mediation in the UN assessed budget.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be the first one held by the Council on mediation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts since an open debate on the issue on 21 April 2009 (S/PV.6108) at the initiative of Mexico. At that meeting, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2009/8) in which it expressed its readiness to explore further ways and means to promote mediation, underlined the importance of building national and local mediation capacities, and stressed the need for women to participate as high-level mediators and in mediators’ teams.

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