Speech at the Friends of Mediation Ministerial Breakfast in New York, 28.9.2012

Mr. Deputy Secretary General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to conclude the third ministerial breakfast of the Group of Friends of Mediation. I would like to thank all of you for your attendance and for your insightful contributions to our fruitful discussions today.  

In these closing remarks, I would like to highlight three topics: the Secretary General’s report and the Guidance attached thereto, resources for mediation, and the role of women in mediation.

SG’s report including the UN Guidance for Effective Mediation

The Secretary General’s report is an excellent account of the UN’s current activities in the field of mediation. It also provides an important analysis of the changing nature of conflicts and the challenges of mediation. It gives us food for thought when considering next steps in promoting mediation. I would like to warmly thank the Secretary General for the report and its Annex I ”United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation”.   

We all know that the increase of mediation efforts and the diversification of the field require greater coherence from various mediation initiatives.  A pre-requisite for successful mediation is a strong and recognized leadership and coordinated action. In order to enhance coordination and efficiency, there ideally should be one lead mediator or lead mediation team for each spesific case. The lead does not have to be the UN – it can be a regional organization or a state. In situations where the international community is not able to agree on a common approach and strategy, the role of the Secretary General in offering his good offices is of paramount importance. I would therefore encourage the Secretary General to make the full use of his own mandate, based on the Charter of the United Nations.

The guidance attached to the Secretary General’s report is a landmark document, which should be used and disseminated widely. It is a result of extensive, inclusive and transparent consultative process, and thus reflects lessons learned from past and ongoing mediation processes around the world. Regional initiatives related to the dissemination and promotion of the use of the Guidance as well as related capacity-building would be very welcome.

One aspect I would like to mention here is the issue of international law and normative frameworks. While it may sometimes be necessary to carefully explore the timing and sequencing of judicial and non-judicial approaches, as the Guidance states, we also know that there can be no lasting peace without justice and reconciliation.

Financing of mediation

Mediation can be very cost effective, especially if taken up early in a conflict situation. By further developing the use of mediation, the international community could certainly cut down its peacekeeping expenses. Mediation does not only save money: successful mediation saves lives, reduces human suffering, creates conditions conducive to lasting peace and paves way for sustainable development. In short, mediation is a wise long-term investment and its cost is marginal compared to other forms of conflict management.

Mediation, however, also requires resources. At the moment, the majority of UN’s mediation and good offices work is funded through voluntary contributions. Finland is one of the countries supporting financially the activities of the Department of Political Affairs. As more countries have become active in  the field of mediation, it would be natural that the donor base of UN’s mediation efforts would also be broadened. I would very much like to see members of our group becoming also donors of DPA.

At the same time, we must consider other possible ways of providing predictable and stable funding in the future.  Financing mediation activities from the regular UN budget could be one option worth considering.  I would like to suggest that we task our Permanent Representatives to prepare concrete proposals for future financing of mediation before our next ministerial meeting.

The role of women in mediation

Women’s voice and participation bring a priceless ingredient to the peace table, leading to more successful and more lasting resolution of conflicts. Women play a vital role in gathering support in their communities for a peace process and its results, and they have a central role in achieving sustainable peace. However, the high level of women’s engagement in informal efforts unfortunately does not translate into significant presence or influence in formal conflict resolution or political dialogue. Only a few women have made it to the negotiation tables of peace processes. I therefore warmly welcome the concrete targets the Secretary General has set for women and mediation, especially that of appointing a female UN Chief Mediator.

Women’s participation is vital both in resolving the crisis and in making sure that women’s interests are addressed in the agreements moving forward. Women’s participation and gender expertise in conflict resolution provide a firm foundation for women’s post conflict participation. We need to address the obstacles that women face in being informed about, and participating in, formal conflict resolution.

The mandate renewals for UN missions, such as the recent one for Afghanistan, have been explicit about the imperative of women’s participation. This imperative should be extended to their engagement in any type of national, regional and international engagement process designed to support the reconciliation processes.

The role of women in peace processes has a special focus in Finnish foreign policy. We support implementation of UNSC resolution 1325 on women peace and security for example in Kenya, Afghanistan and Nepal. However, increasing the number of women mediators remains a challenge also for us at the national level.

Finally, the Group of Friends has achieved a lot in terms of strengthening the normative basis of mediation efforts. The two adopted resolutions prove this. However, many challenges still remain. I suggest that in next autumn’s meeting, we address the issue of financing in a more concrete way, based on the preparatory work to be carried out by our Permanent Representatives. We might also explore ways to more concretely discuss country situations. This would enable us to enhance the preventive use of mediation, to promote early warning and early action. I hope we all will meet next year even stronger and better prepared to promote peace.