Opening remarks by Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja in Friends of Mediation Ministerial meeting in Turkish Center, New York on 26 September 2013
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I am delighted to see all of you here. Also on my behalf, I would like to warmly welcome the new members of the Group of Friends of mediation, namely Kenya, Montenegro and the United States of America. I would like to welcome our special guest, High representative of the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser. I would like to thank all Members for their active participation in the work of the Group of Friends at different levels during the past year.
I would like to thank the United Nations, DPA and its Mediation Support Unit for excellent cooperation with the Group of Friends. The highly professional support DPA provides to mediation efforts on the ground around the world is invaluable. Ultimately, it is the work in the field that yields the most important results. The Group of Friends remains committed to supporting DPA’s work also in the future, and we in turn count on your support.
The normative work that we have carried out can make a real difference in the field. Our 2011 resolution strengthened meditation. According to the feedback we have got, it has helped pave way for mediators in conflict areas in a very concrete way. It has created new space for mediation by convincing belligerent parties that there is a UN mandate for mediation. After last year’s procedural resolution we have to aim high again. The third resolution should again bolster the normative basis for mediation.
I am happy to see regional and cross-regional organizations so strongly represented in today’s meeting. The role of regional organizations is extremely important. They work closer to the conflict, and their knowledge about the context, the parties involved and the roots of the conflict is invaluable. They may also bring their own instruments to bear on mediation.
I am convinced that the Group of Friends can encourage increase in regional mediation activity. The initiative by Spain and Morocco on the promotion of mediation in the Mediterranean, launched officially a year ago here in New York, is an excellent example. It shows how we can draw on our progress at the UN level, and put it into action in a regional setting. I am especially delighted that we have both the Spanish and Moroccan Foreign Minister among us today to share their experience.
The United Nations can be present as a partner to regional organizations, providing support and guidance as required. In addition to cooperation between the UN and regional organizations, also cooperation between different regional organizations is important. Many lessons learned can be shared.
The Friends of Mediation has also inspired the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, to develop a systematic mediation support capacity. The work of OSCE mediators should be further strengthened and the mediation support capacity expanded. The same applies to the European Union, where Finland has aimed at bolstering mediation capacities in the European External Action service.
The Friends of Mediation format could be useful also in regional organizations. I would like to propose that we instruct our respective Ambassadors to initiate mediation discussions in our respective regional organizations
I also believe it would be beneficial in all regional organizations to have support structures for mediation, similar to Mediation Support Unit in the UN. They could create a network supporting mediators both regionally and globally. Creating Friends of Mediation Groups in different regional organizations could be the first step to this direction.
Our proposal is that the next General Assembly resolution would focus on the cooperation between the UN and regional organizations. The idea is not to build hierarchies between different actors, but to consolidate and further strengthen the cooperation between the UN, regional organizations and also NGOs.
Mediation saves lives. It is also a cost-effective tool compared to many other means of crisis management. Providing more sustainable and predictably funding for mediation activities will help to decrease or restrain pressure to increase the costs in other areas.
There are several possible options for the Friends of Mediation to advance resourcing of UN Mediation activities. They have been outlined in the option paper. For instance, we could submit a letter by the co-chairs, on behalf of the Group, to the Secretary-General, requesting the further strengthening of the DPA resources, in the areas of mediation and conflict prevention, and establishment of a dedicated fund for system-wide mediation training by the DPA.
Furhermore, we could engage as a caucus that jointly advocates the appropriation of adequate resources for mediation in the UN regular budget. We could also possibly encourage the DPA to create under its Multi-Year Appeal, a dedicated “mediation envelope” that contains and supports the existing various funding mechanisms for mediation activities. I would very much like to hear your views on this.
Promoting women's effective participation in mediation is extremely important. Research indicates that including women in a group makes the group smarter, smarter groups make better decisions, and better decisions pave the way for more sustainable futures. However, in spite of many global and regional commitments, the number of women and gender experts involved in formal peacemaking processes has remained frustratingly low. Only few peace agreements address gender-related issues or harness the added value women can bring to further sustainable peace.
Finland is committed to promoting women’s involvement and gender aspect in peace processes. DPA has developed a new Gender and mediation training, which aims at trainig high level mediatiors, like SRSGs and their teams to include women in peace processes. Finland and Norway have the privilege of partnering with DPA in this training.
Even more important than training is to put in action what we have learnt. We – all UN member states – need to appoint more women as peace envoys and special representatives.
Finally: we all know that mediation is a risky business. There are no quick fixes. Mediation processes are time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. It is not always easy to tell the general public what the results are. It is sometimes arduos to find the financial resources. Yet we have to continue our work. We have to continue it both in the field and in conflict regions, in our respective headquarters and here at the United Nations. Together we can ensure that mediation continues to stay high on the agenda.
Together we can increase peace and save lives.