Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Mediation is a process whereby a thrid party assists two or more parties, with their consent, to prevent manage or resolve a conflict by helping them to develop mutually acceptable agreements." - Article 33, UN Mediation Framework



Caux, Switzerland - July 2015


I have recently been deployed to Geneva to support political processes related to the peaceful resolution of conflict. Previously I have served in UN peace operations in Israel/Palestine, Sudan and Guinea Bissau.

UN mediation framework

Article 33 of the Charter requests the parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice   

In this regard, the Secretary-General has developed throughout the years his good office role to assist the parties to settle their disputes in a peaceful way. Mediation is one of the main tools.

Definition of mediation: Mediation is a process whereby a third party assists two or more parties, with their consent, to prevent manage or resolve a conflict by helping them to develop mutually acceptable agreements.

Strengthening mediation

The tasks of the Mediation Support Unit are: 1) to support the mediation process; 2) capacity building, 3) knowledge management

The Secretary-General has identifies a number of key fundamentals that should be considered in a mediation effort: preparedness; consent; impartiality; inclusivity; national ownership; international law and normative frameworks; coherence, coordination and complementarity of the mediation effort; and quality peace agreements. These are the cornerstone of UN mediation.

These principles are described in details in the Guide. I want to focus on a couple of them which I believe are relevant for our discussion today

Consent: Mediation is a voluntary process that requires the consent of the conflict parties to be effective. Without consent it is unlikely that parties will negotiate in good faith or be committed to the mediation process. Many players could have important roles to play.

While the UN is a traditional, established mediator there are cases in which individuals, NGOs, religious leaders etc have played fundamental roles. These actors have significant comparative advantages in terms of size, flexibility, ability to work under the radar screen, etc

Impartiality: Impartiality is a cornerstone of mediation – if a mediation process is perceived to be biased, this can undermine meaningful progress to resolve the conflict. Not to be confused with neutrality: legal framework.

Inclusivity: Inclusivity refers to the extent and manner in which the views and needs of conflict parties and other stakeholders are represented and integrated into the process and outcome of a mediation effort. This presents challenges and opportunity.

Mr Formica went on to describe the implementation of these principles in several situations in which he has served.


Enrico Formica

Senior Mediation Officer

United Nations Office at Geneva

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