General News

Security Council – Mediation and Settlement of Disputes

Note: A complete summary of today’s meeting will be available after its conclusion.


ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said war is becoming increasingly complex — and so is mediating peace, with internal conflicts frequently taking on regional and transnational dimensions, with many featuring a deadly mix of fragmented armed groups and political interests funded by criminal activities.  Comprehensive peace agreements are becoming more elusive as political will wanes and international attention drifts. “As bad as the situation is in many parts of the world, I am convinced that it is within our power to tackle and reverse these trends,” he said, which is why there has been a surge in diplomacy during his tenure.

It is important to be “bold and creative” in bringing together the avenues and capacities available for mediation, he said, noting that the United Nations has a number of such resources in his special envoys and representatives, good offices and formal talks, which may lead to a political process, as in Libya or Yemen.  They could also head a complex peacekeeping operation as in Mali, or focus on prevention from a regional office, as in West Africa.

Collaboration with other mediation actors is vital, he said, noting that in Madagascar, his special adviser has coordinated with special envoys of the African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC), European Union and the International Organization of la Francophonie to facilitate Malagasy‑led negotiations.  Members of the United Nations Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers meanwhile are advising officials in the Central African Republic on transnational justice, and in South Sudan, providing support to the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) which is leading the mediation process.

Discreet engagement also plays a role, he said, citing talks with the Taliban, away from the glare of publicity, which allows for positions to be clarified, an approach that has also been taken in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The United Nations also works with non‑governmental organizations, which often have greater freedom to establish contacts and foster dialogue with armed groups.  From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, an enormous range of national bodies, civil society groups, religious leaders and young activists play a part in mediation at local and community levels.  Further, the Organization is finding new ways to pursue inclusive approaches through his good offices and personal engagement, where it can add value, with a recently established High‑Level Advisory Board on Mediation complementing those efforts with experience and networks across the spectrum of mediation.

Successful mediation and peaceful dispute settlement requires a deep understanding of leaders and their constituencies, he said, coupled with strong political will.  He cited the Declaration of Peace and Friendship, signed by the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea last month after 20 years of conflict, in that context, and described working at the subnational and local levels to build peace “from the ground up”, as the national conference process in Libya has done.  His envoys are supporting local efforts to address communal conflicts in South Sudan and they are engaging with a women’s advisory board and civil society support room on the Syrian process.  In the Central African Republic, the United Nations is engaging at the local level with national authorities and religious leaders.

The emergence of regional networks of women mediators is another important development, he said, citing the Nordic Women Mediators Network and FemWise, and the African Union network of women mediators as notable examples.  Inclusive mediation requires paying greater attention to conflict‑related sexual violence and the gendered impact of decisions around post‑war reconstruction.  More must be done to engage with young people and it is encouraging that six young refugees took part as observers in the South Sudan High‑Level Revitalization Forum.  Finally, social platforms can help bring communities together, stimulate dialogue, share information and heal historic wrongs.

Parties to conflict are highly attuned to, and play on, divisions in the international community.  The Council plays a central role in signalling to warring parties that they must peacefully settle their disputes.  When united, it is more effective, and when it is not, mediation suffers.  Consistent messaging by regional and subregional organizations, which have the expertise and capacity to find innovative responses to problems, can be a great support to the Council.  Indeed, as the conflict landscape has changed, innovative thinking on mediation is a necessity.  He urged the Council to commit to more effective use of mediation as a tool to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

JUSTIN WELBY, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking both as a religious leader and a member of the Secretary‑General’s High‑Level Advisory Board on Mediation, said the average member of the global church community is poor, female, living in a conflict or post‑conflict setting, and has the aspirations of all vulnerable people — “above all, a longing for peace”.  “The church and other faith communities are intimately present where there are conflicts,” he stressed, adding:  “We cannot and will not walk away from them.”  Citing the example of South Sudan, he said church leaders are playing an increasingly important role in moving the peace process beyond its current roadblocks.  However, mediation can only be effective in the context of reconciliation arrangements.  Communities must come to terms with history and learn to “disagree well”, he stressed, likening mediation — however skilled — to using a garden hose to put out a forest fire, “when what you need is rain over the whole area to let new life grow and sustain itself”.

In that context, he said, mediation and the entire conflict cycle must be complemented with reconciliation frameworks.  Noting that the international community has avoided a global nuclear war, but not its continuing menace, he expressed concern that today the international rules‑based order is struggling and national interests are too often allowed “even in this chamber” to overcome the wisdom of those who have lived through war.  “Without dealing with even passionate disagreement peacefully, no national interest can prevail,” he said.  Short‑term advantage for one party can lead to long‑term destruction for all.  Institutions like the church can play a significant role, as they are often the only functioning institutions present before, during and after conflict.  They can provide early warning signs and work with communities to provide pre‑emptive reconciliation frameworks to stop conflicts before they become or return to violence.

Urging those present today to support efforts to bring conflict transformation efforts to the grass‑roots level — and not only to elites in conferences — he said such work will enable mediation to be “orders of magnitude” more effective.  The United Nations is the most extraordinary example of reconciliation frameworks, but the same must be embedded in current ways of working and analysis.  Advocating, in that regard, for a cross‑agency and cross‑departmental reconciliation strategy supported by the necessary resources, he said much good work is already taking place.  The Mediation Support Unit is one vital component, and partnerships between United Nations offices and groups including the Network for Traditional and Religious Peacemakers helps to build shared understanding.  Welcoming other important efforts, he nevertheless described it as “overdue” for the United Nations to move beyond such fragmented work and place transformative reconciliation at the core of all the Organization’s partnerships with faith communities.

Underscoring the important participation of women and youth in mediation and conflict transformation, he said his office is currently developing a programme known as “Women on the Front Line”, which offers support and equips women in their daily contexts.  It will be complemented by a “Youth on the Front Line” initiative, he said, recalling several other recent initiatives, including an “Emerging Peacemakers Forum” held earlier this year in London to bring young people from various religious communities together to learn about peacebuilding.

MOSSARAT QADEEM, Executive Director of PAIMAN Alumni Trust, highlighted how women have been excluded in mediation, but how they could play a key role in such efforts.  “Despite the rhetoric of support and even the resolutions and national plans that you have adopted, we as women remain largely outside the door,” she said.  There is a misconception about the role of mediator, who is seen as having power and gravitas — terms that are inherently masculine and associated with the ability to knock heads or press for compromises.  Many are skeptical of the ability of women to talk to violent extremist groups like the Taliban, Boko Haram or the Tamil Tigers.

Years ago, a group of mothers of missing soldiers in Sri Lanka successfully mediated a ceasefire, which was followed by peace talks between the Tamil Tigers and the Government, she said, also sharing her own experience of speaking with the Taliban in Pakistan.  “I found the courage not only to speak with them to release my staff members they had captured, but I took the chance to seek support for the implementation of health and education projects.  This is mediation,” she said.

Women, because of their connections to communities and households, are helpful in localized peacebuilding, she said.  Women mediators can ensure that peacebuilding agreements are more gender‑sensitive and thus more comprehensive and legitimate.  Women’s engagement is particularly important in Track II and III diplomacy as women can effectively use soft power and humanizing communication to create more open and flexible peace processes.  Women are often credited with the ability to change the conversation and provide a compassionate and non‑threatening presence at the table, thus helping warring parties to find common cause and reach an agreement.

Women must be included in Track I diplomacy in order to advance greater gender equality, she said.  The recently established Commonwealth Network of Women Mediators will provide much‑needed patronage and structural support for women to serve as mediation mentors and advisers.  “We are seeing conflicts become more protracted and metastasize across borders and continents.  How much longer can the world really afford to exclude those of us who are making peace at the frontlines?” she said.


TARIQ MAHMOOD AHMAD, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations of the United Kingdom, Council President for August, spoke in his national capacity to say the 15‑member organ is often uniquely placed to support mediation efforts.  But it is far from the only actor.  Averting violence requires approaches with a range of actors including regional and subregional organizations, civil society, religious leaders and women’s mediation networks.  The division in Northern Ireland took years of negotiation to resolve, resulting in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, showing the value of patient and persistent negotiation.  In the Central African Republic and Mali, community‑level mediation, conducted or facilitated by peacekeeping missions, has seen success.  The United Nations has professionalized its mediation role through the years, notably with the creation of the mediation support unit in 2006 and a standby team of mediation advisers in 2008.  Looking ahead, it is important to address the changing nature of conflict and he pressed the Council to work with mediators from regional and subregional organizations.  More broadly, the United Nations must ensure mediation is properly resourced, and that women are involved meaningfully and equally, as leaders and decision‑makers, from national to local levels.  The United Kingdom will commit £1.6 million to the development of a network of women mediators across the Commonwealth.

NAME TO COME (Equatorial Guinea), speaking also on behalf of Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia, pressed the Council to ensure that mediation — whether led by the United Nations, regional or subregional organizations, or States — receive the requisite support.  “There is no real alternative to prioritizing mediation,” he said, welcoming the General Assembly’s approval of the Secretary‑General’s prioritization of prevention and peacekeeping.  The challenges to global security are so complex they cannot be addressed solely by the Council, making cooperation with regional organizations, especially the African Union, as set out in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, particularly important.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), IGAD and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) play a key role, as seen recently in the Gambia and Guinea‑Bissau.  Further, 20 African Union special envoys and mediators are deployed around the continent, supported by a mediation assistance unit.  Underscoring the need to strengthen regional and international structures to include women, he said the African Union mediation efforts are guided by the goal of “silencing the guns” and complemented the United Nations prevention agenda.  He advocated greater cooperation.

NAME TO COME (Bolivia) said her country has always advocated for the use of peaceful dispute settlement, including mediation, arbitration, judicial settlement, and reference to regional agreements, pursuant to Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter.  Mediation must recognize the historical and cultural specificities of the actors involved.  The political will of parties is of paramount importance, with involvement of women and young people vital to success.  Voicing support for the Secretary‑General’s goal to increase the number of women mediators, she said the United Nations role must be one of impartiality and neutrality.  Such efforts require a stable financial, administrative and operational environment, with efforts coordinated to avoid the duplication of work.  She advocated for a focus on capacity‑building and establishing initiatives with States that involves training mediators and establishing mediation networks.  For its part, the Council must promote cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, she said, encouraging the Secretary‑General to continue the use of his good offices.

NAME TO COME (Poland), describing conflict prevention and management through mediation as one of the United Nations founding principles, urged States to take all possible steps to further enhance the Organization’s capacities in those areas.  In today’s complex world, the United Nations cannot be expected to fulfil its role in safeguarding international peace and security alone.  Regional organizations, individual Member States and non‑governmental entities have important — and, at times, the most important — contributions to make.  Recalling that the basis on which mediation is based is the concept of “restorative justice” — pioneered by the Polish lawyer and sociologist Leon Petrazycki — she called for stronger partnerships between the United Nations various offices and agencies.  Indeed, the Organization already has the right tools to advance mediation, including the Mediation Support Unit, the Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers and the recently established High‑level Advisory Board.  Recalling that the first results of successfully conducted negotiations by a member of the Board have already been seen in the case of Liberia’s recent presidential election, she also cited several examples of the crucial involvement of civil society groups, including women’s organizations, and urged Member States to respond to calls to enhance the financing of United Nations mediation and prevention efforts.

NAME TO COME (France) said mediation is a clear demonstration of the increased power of diplomacy, a key part of the work of both the United Nations and the Council.  Citing the cases of the Gambia and Colombia as recent success stories where mediation was used, she agreed with the Secretary‑General that more efforts are needed to prevent the onset and escalation of conflicts around the world.  Today, the United Nations plays a critical role managing peace processes in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic and parts of West Africa, among other places.  Citing some of the challenges facing those efforts, she said the peace agreement reached in Mali is currently under threat, while other processes suffer from a lack of political will.  Meanwhile, such emerging challenges as climate change are accelerating conflicts in some parts of the world.  In addition to the Council’s unity and inclusivity — in particular, the effective participation of women as a sine qua non in any peace processes — she listed other critical elements, including partnerships with civil society and regional organizations, which “give the United Nations proximity on the ground” as well as local know‑how.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said that today’s complex conflicts require adaptation of the existing instruments, as mediation efforts often result in a mosaic of uncoordinated initiatives by States and non‑governmental organizations.  His delegation encourages the use of mediation and other tools before situations become a threat to international peace and security.  They may benefit situations such as those in Cameroon and Nicaragua.  Women must be equal partners in peace processes, and particularly in mediation efforts, and therefore the United Nations should appoint more women as envoys.  Mediation must also be used throughout the conflict cycle.  Prevention is at the core of the United Nations work, but it is entirely funded by voluntary contributions.  Assessed contributions for prevention should be a given.

NAME TO COME (Peru) said strengthening multilateralism and rejuvenating the United Nations are critical endeavours in today’s increasingly complex world.  Among the methods listed under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, mediation is particularly crucial before, during and after a conflict.  International mediation, along with good offices, goes beyond simply establishing contact between the parties.  Instead, mediators are called upon to guide the negotiations in line with the principle of national sovereignty.  Mediators must also guide the parties towards solutions consistent with the international rules‑based system, and never towards “unfriendly” ends.  Spotlighting the importance of mediation expertise, he welcomed the creation of the High‑Level Advisory Board and its successful recent work in Liberia and elsewhere.  In the pursuit of peace processes in such conflict zones as Syria and Yemen, those officials charged with mediation responsibilities can rely on the support of Peru and the Council.  The international community should more actively support the development and strengthening of mediation capacities, and work towards a more holistic approach that includes early warning systems.  Turning to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said those must always be complemented by peacebuilding efforts and include an exit strategy from their earliest stages.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) underscored the Security Council’s vital role in promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes, especially by means of mediation.  One effective tool is a regional United Nations presence, he said, citing the work of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).  As indicated in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, regional organizations are particularly important actors, he said, emphasizing the need for the Organization to strengthen cooperation with those entities.  He added that there should be more meaningful participation of women, religious groups and youth in mediation and peace processes, and recalled his country’s role as an honest broker in Syrian peace talks and the Iran nuclear deal.

NAME TO COME (Kuwait) referred to a verse in the Qur’an stressing the importance of mediation 1,400 years ago.  Indeed, the United Nations was established to prevent conflict, and mediation is a civilized means for settling conflict.  If two parties agree to participate, it is a sign of their civilized nature.  The history of mediation demonstrated it had been institutionalized in the twentieth century, notably through the 1907 Hague Convention.  It is unfortunate the Council has not paid enough attention to mediation.  It should increase its use of Chapter VI of the Charter, he said, stressing “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  It is unacceptable for the United Nations to “spend billions” containing and managing conflicts by deploying peacekeepers when it is more viable to invest in mediation.  Logic dictates it should prioritize Chapter VI over Chapter VII.  He pressed the Council to prioritize mediation, giving regional and subregional organizations more responsibility through Chapter VIII in that regard.

CARL ORRENIUS SKAU (Sweden) said that gender mainstreaming and women’s participation in mediation is not a women’s issue, but one of peace and security.  “Women’s participation is not a box that can be ticked by adding one or two women in negotiation teams or creating a separate mechanism where women only have an advisory position,” he added.  Women and men must participate on equal terms at all levels of political and peace processes.  More women should be appointed as special envoys and senior members of mediation teams.  Mediation must be inclusive and take into consideration the needs of all segments of society.  The participation of local communities and civil society, including youth organizations, in peace and mediation processes is essential.  He urged the Council to stand united in supporting United Nations mediation efforts, giving envoys and mediation teams the leverage they need to succeed — especially in situations that are politically complex.

NAME TO COME (China) underscored the importance of adhering to the United Nations Charter, stressing that the Organization should play a central role in conflict prevention and avail itself more to the Charter’s Chapter VI based on respect for sovereignty and non‑interference.  The consent of parties to a conflict must be secured beforehand, with the goal of cooperation.  Mediators and parties to the conflict should embrace a vision of a shared future, tackling difficult security issues through dialogue in a manner that brings about mutual benefit and respects the right to “agree to disagree”.  The Council should engage in peaceful dispute settlement through political and diplomatic means, providing support and guidance for such activities.  The United Nations meanwhile should use the unique influence of the Secretary‑General to mediate disputes.  As regional organizations, notably the African Union, enjoy unique advantages, more efforts are required to support them.  China has appointed Special Envoys for Asia, Africa and the Middle East, who participate in international conferences and mediation processes, among other activities.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that from an economic viewpoint, mediation has many benefits over peacekeeping or sanctions as it does not hinder development.  The United Nations has every opportunity to play a lead role in such efforts, which should align with the Charter, respecting both national responsibility and sovereignty.  Using regional bodies for conflict mediation is provided by the Charter’s Article 33, he said, while Chapter VIII encourages resolution of local disputes with their involvement before situations are transmitted to the Council.  The United Nations should rely on their experience, and where appropriate, approach mediation through a sensitive division of labour.  Highlighting the potential for cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, he cautioned against a duplication of efforts.  Mediation hinges on the consent of all parties to the conflict and the impartiality of mediators.  Yet, there have been attempts to monopolize mediation efforts and, under their cover, achieve geopolitical goals.  Mediation must be based on knowledge of cultural and historic specificities, he said, underscoring the importance of finding bespoke solutions and carefully selecting United Nations mediators by using objective criteria and geographic balance.  United Nations mediators must maintain neutrality; reference to certain principles cannot justify any indulgence of a particular party to a conflict and he suggested correcting United Nations guidance for effective mediation in that regard.  In the Council, there are often proposals that amount to interference into States’ internal affairs, and attempts to use the 15‑member organ to support one political camp only drags out conflict.  He advocated direct dialogue between the sides, through impartial mediation, attempting to find areas of agreement.

NAME TO COME (United States), recalling that the late former Secretary‑General Kofi Annan had served as Special Envoy for Syria for five months before stepping down, said, “had the parties listened to Mr. Annan at the time, hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved”.  But Mr. Annan, and the Council itself, had found themselves paralysed because the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al‑Assad did not want peace.  While meditation is critical, even the world’s greatest mediators “cannot compel anyone to do anything”, and the missing ingredient is often the Council’s own unwillingness to see peace processes succeed.  In that context, the United States supports the imposition of real consequences when parties to conflicts are not willing to negotiate.  In South Sudan, the Council waited years amid a bloody conflict before imposing sanctions and an arms embargo just last month.  The United States repeatedly pushed for those measures, but it was continually told to wait for negotiations to finish.  Describing mediation as the United Nations fundamental purpose, he nevertheless cautioned Council members not to be blinded by its prospects.  “For mediators, talk is critical, but for [the Council], talk is cheap,” he stressed, calling on its members to be willing to use strong tools to push conflict parties to the negotiating table.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Mediation, said the Council can do much more to support mediation, which should particularly be encouraged before tension escalates into armed conflict.  The United Nations Mediation Support Unit must be provided with adequate human and financial resources, and a special account — separate from the regular budget — should be set up for special political missions.  The Organization should also keep supporting regional and subregional organizations to reinforce their own mediation tools.  Inclusivity and national ownership are key for effective mediation, he said, emphasizing that bottom‑up approaches tend to generate more solid agreements.  He underscored the constructive role to be played by women and youth, adding that by firmly supporting the work of the Secretary‑General’s special representatives, the Council can strengthen their roles as mediators and encourage parties to engage seriously in negotiations.

FERIDUN SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Mediation, which consists of 48 Member States, the United Nations, 7 regional organizations, and other international organizations, said that the Group had initiated four General Assembly resolutions to strengthen the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution.  He said that it welcomed the Secretary-General’s strong commitment on emphasizing the importance of conflict prevention and resolution, including mediation.

Creating lasting peace requires a comprehensive, inclusive and coordinated approach where different actors of the international community complement one another, he said.  This includes not only the United Nations, the Security Council and Member States, but also regional, subregional and local organizations, as well as civil society.  Women and youth have an important role in building peace and resilience in their societies.  Mediation should not be a closed and competitive field for a few.  A greater emphasis should be given to mentoring the next generation of mediators and exchanging experiences with national and local mediators.

NAME TO COME (Egypt) said unilateralism is “a real waste”, demonstrating a lack of respect for the Charter and undermining the global system, rather than helping to find means to reform it.  “We have not been able to contain these conflicts” around the world, which some had even used for ideological reasons, he said, stressing the United Nations central role in peaceful dispute settlement.  “This is the less costly means, at the human and material level, to deal with threats to peace and security,” he added, pressing the Council to make use of negotiation, mediation, arbitration, judicial settlement and to partner more with regional and other international bodies.  It must avoid actions that undermine regional and national measures.  He underscored the importance of selecting mediators who are acceptable to all parties, bearing in mind the specific circumstances of each conflict.  “We need to be flexible,” he said, bearing in mind changes on the ground.

NAME TO COME (Colombia) said the fact her country ended five decades of violence demonstrated the value of multilateralism.  The notion of mediation has been strengthened over the last decade and the Secretary‑General’s creation of a High‑Level Mediation Advisory Board has made it possible to promote conflict prevention as part‑and‑parcel of diplomacy for peace.  In Colombia’s experience, the contribution of neighbouring States and organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) underscored the value of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, she said underscoring women’s essential role in mediation.  “Women should be involved before, during and especially following negotiation” in the implementation of an agreement, she said, adding:  “When women participate it automatically increases the possibility that peace will be lasting.”

NAME TO COME (Pakistan) said humanity has always sought ways to resolve its disputes and conflicts through peaceful mediation.  Citing the recent successful examples of mediation in Colombia and between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, she nevertheless said the world seems to be afflicted by ever more complex conflicts.  The Secretary‑General’s call for a surge in diplomacy for peace is urgent, as “it costs more to pick up the pieces after a conflict than to prevent one”.  Expressing concern about the Council’s increasing tendency to resort to measures under Chapter VII of the Charter, she underscored the important complementarity between Chapters VI and VII, which must be clearly held.  While the United Nations has had some successes in mediating political settlements, its record is, “at best, checkered”.  The long‑standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains on the Council’s agenda, with the organ having provided that “the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people” expressed through a democratic, free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.  Sadly, that decision and others remain unimplemented to date.  “What is at stake is both the Council’s credibility as well as the objective of durable peace in our region,” she stressed, adding:  “We must not fail these tests.”

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) described war as the last argument of sovereignty “when surrender is never an option”.  Mediation, however, is a wise preliminary choice that enables States to settle disputes through an exchange of words rather than bullets.  With conflicts today being longer and more intractable, with the increasingly indiscriminate use of precision weapons, the case for mediation is even more compelling.  Reaffirming his country’s commitment to mediation, he said the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes is eponymous with the Philippines’ desire for peace.  When used during key phases of conflict, mediation is a game‑changer, he said, citing his country’s own experience in Mindanao and its negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines.

NAME TO COME (Lithuania), associating him/herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Mediation, welcomed the conceptual shift from conflict management to conflict prevention.  “Mediation is an important tool for defusing conflicts or better still, preventing them from happening,” s/he said.  Welcoming the stronger focus towards those ends, s/he nevertheless expressed concern that, too often, mediation and peace processes remain male-dominated.  While women are disproportionately affected by conflict, their critical role in negotiating, keeping and building peace in their communities is often overlooked.  Voicing support for efforts to enlarge the pool of high-level envoys and senior mediators with a focus on women mediators, s/he said the emergence of new crises and the persistence of protracted conflicts mean that international and regional organizations should strengthen their capabilities for effective mediation and dialogue facilitation, with the Council playing a supporting role.  Spotlighting the important role of mediation in all stages of the conflict cycle — including its resolution — s/he said formal mediation efforts are needed after agreements are reached to ensure their implementation, resolve possible disputes that arise and avoid breakdowns or relapses into conflict.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized that international relations should be ruled by law, and not power.  Under the United Nations Charter, States have two complementary obligations:  first, to refrain from the threat or use of force, and second to settle their disputes by peaceful means.  Citing failures in upholding those obligations that need to be rectified as well as “uneven implementations of laws that require adjustments”, he recalled that at the start of this century a country was invaded by a permanent member of the Council in total and blatant violation of the principles of the Charter.  Now, that same power pursues a principle of withdrawal from international organizations and agreements — jeopardizing the sanctity of international treaties — and openly invites all Member States to either disobey Council resolution 2231 (2015) on Iran’s nuclear agreement “or face punishment”.  “If unchecked, this trend will further tarnish the credibility of the Organization and this Council, eroding the rule of law and leading to disorder,” he said, also warning against the trend of increasingly resorting to action under Chapter VII of the Charter.

GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said mediation is not only about preventing or ending conflict; it is also about building the foundation for durable peace, requiring the inclusion of participants and perspectives beyond the parties to armed conflict.  Women must take a meaningful role, he said, citing a 2015 study of 156 peace agreements, which showed a 20 per cent increase in the likelihood of an agreement lasting two years when women were involved, and a 35 per cent increase in the likelihood of one lasting 15 years.  Ensuring that perpetrators of atrocity crimes face justice removes the most likely spoilers of a peace agreement from post‑conflict society.  When mediation does not address serious crimes, it denies victims the opportunity to heal.  Finding peaceful means to address “self-governance” situations should be a focus area for the United Nations conflict prevention and resolution architecture, he said, suggesting that field missions could support early local mediation in such situations by offering to facilitate dialogue on self‑governance between the State and affected community.

LOUISE BLAIS (Canada) underscored the importance of women’s involvement in mediation and peacebuilding efforts.  Women’s involvement is associated with much higher rates of implementation once an agreement is reached.  The United Nations, subregional organizations and civil society are already doing excellent work to involve women in mediation efforts.  Highlighting women’s engagement in Burundi, South Sudan and Mali, she said youth and women‑led initiatives illustrate what effective conflict mediation looks like on the ground, day‑to‑day.  It takes the form of community peace dialogues, early warning monitoring, information dissemination and dispelling false rumours, as well as active political engagement.  From Colombia to Yemen, mediation and dialogue efforts that include women and youth have succeeded in reaching breakthroughs that would not have otherwise been possible.  Despite the progress, however, prejudice and intimidation too often deter women and youth from participating in peace processes.  Hence, the United Nations, regional organizations and civil society must engage and empower women and youth so that they can be architects of lasting peace, she stressed.

SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan), remembering Kofi Annan as “a role model for the art of mediation”, said her country supports all means to strengthen United Nations mediation efforts in all conflict zones.  The longer a conflict drags on, the more difficult it is to resolve it, with innocent people being the biggest losers.  That was clear in the Middle East, she said, calling on the international community to step up mediation efforts in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.  Emphasizing the importance of finding individuals and parties who can build on sustainable solutions, she said Jordan — with its balanced foreign policy — is a beacon of wisdom and moderation, as seen in its principled position in the Syrian crisis.  For mediation to succeed, root causes must be taken into account and tolerance, justice and coexistence promoted.  She went on to stress the need for Council unity in providing political and moral support to mediators.TORE HATTREM (Norway), also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said that while solving disputes remains the primary responsibility of Member States, the Security Council has an important role.  He encouraged the Council to make full use of its mandate to engage in, support and promote mediation efforts, as it did by providing united support for the Colombia peace process.  The increasing complexity of today’s conflicts poses challenges for United Nations peacemaking efforts, he said, underscoring the complex relationship between sanctions and peace processes.

Underscoring the important role of regional organizations, he expressed support for strengthening relationships between the African Union and the United Nations.  He also expressed concern over the low number of women participating in mediation efforts, welcoming the Secretary-General’s efforts to rectify the gap.  “We hope that the emerging cooperation between the regional networks of women mediators and the United Nations will lead to more inclusive peace processes,” he added.  The Council’s efforts to manage conflicts should be tailored to support political solutions to conflicts.  “Mediation is not a quick fix one-size-fits-all approach,” he continued.  Social and economic development remains crucial to addressing the root causes of conflict.

JORGE SKINNER-KLEÉ ARENALES (Guatemala) underscored the importance of settling disputes peacefully.  Although mediation is one of the most important tools, it is rarely implemented at an early stage of the development of a potential source of conflict.  When international law recognizes mediation as one of the most important means to prevent or resolve disputes or conflicts, it does so on the basis that any effort predicated on mediation must take into account the root causes of the conflict.  Effective mediation produces positive results when the aforementioned circumstances are properly considered so that efforts are not misdirected or wasted.  There is no silver bullet in mediation methods.  Sustaining peace also means engaging everyday people to ensure that social discontent is not exacerbated into conflict.

NAME TO COME (Ukraine) noted with regret the United Nations and the Council’s inability to act properly and robustly to address the blatant violation of his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  As a result, the Russian Federation’s aggression against his country continues unabated for the fifth year.  Ukraine remains committed to a peaceful resolution of this conflict.  It has lodged a declaration under the Rome Statute to enable the International Criminal Court to exercise its jurisdiction over war crimes committed since the beginning of the military aggression against Ukraine.  A more proactive approach to mediation on the part of the United Nations is needed.  “By shying away from the issues considered too hot or sensitive, the United Nations is doing nothing less than undermining its own standing,” he said.

Martín García Moritán (Argentina) underscored the obligation of Member States under the United Nations Charter to peacefully resolve disputes.  Noting the Secretary‑General’s emphasis on preventative diplomacy, he said the complexity of today’s disputes called for a multidisciplinary approach, including contributions of regional and subregional organizations as well as the participation of women.  When the United Nations urges parties to negotiate, they must do so in good faith.  States not party to a dispute must avoid conduct that might hinder a solution.  He added that it is inappropriate for the validity of a mediation mandate given to the Secretary-General contingent to the consent of the parties to a dispute.

NAME TO COME (Mexico) recalled that under his delegation’s April 2009 presidency in the Security Council, the organ held a meeting to discuss the same subject as today and adopted a presidential statement.  He noted that one of the three pillars of United Nations reform is a review of peacekeeping operations, which includes placing prevention and mediation at the heart of the Organization’s work.  Mexico prides itself in playing a key role in regional mediation efforts, including the situation in El Salvador, Venezuela and Nicaragua.  The efficient use of Chapter VI tools is crucial.  He invited the Council to adapt mediation tools to the changing nature of conflicts, and help build mediation capacity at the local, regional and international level.  Women represent only 2 per cent of mediators.  A High‑Level Advisory Panel appointed by the Secretary‑General can help reverse this underrepresentation.

JOANNE ADAMSON of the European Union said that, with a long history in promoting and exercising peace, the bloc today is engaged in 40 mediation or dialogue processes worldwide, sometimes taking a lead role, as in facilitating Belgrade and Pristina dialogue, and sometimes discretely, as in reaching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran.  It sought to increase joint initiatives, including with the United Nations and the African Union.  The recent United Nations-World Bank report “Pathways for Peace” made a convincing business case for conflict prevention, finding that greater preventive action could save $70 billion a year.  The Council can be a powerful force to use mediation early on and should place preventive mediation at its heart.  From the highest levels to the local actors, peace processes must involve elites and local levels alike.  Young people’s involvement is another precondition for success.  “Today, we have the technical means to better support mediation,” he said, noting the missing ingredient is political support, which is where the Council could play a crucial role.

JÜRGEN SCHULZ (Germany), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Mediation, said the need to resolve conflicts peacefully is becoming more urgent as pressure on the global order intensifies.  The Security Council has a decisive role to play, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and when it decides to entrust the Secretary-General or another actor with mediating a dispute, it must also provide political support and give the parties adequate space to pursue conflict resolution.  Adherence to certain standards and principles is critical when designing and conducting mediation processes, he said, noting that mediation plays a key role in Germany’s national efforts towards peaceful crisis resolution.  In Yemen, where the world’s worst humanitarian crisis is unfolding, what is needed most is a political solution.  Germany, therefore, supports the United Nations efforts to that end, and continues to finance and facilitate Track II dialogues, local mediation and reconciliation, and wherever possible, small-scale stabilization measures.  In Darfur and Sudan, Germany also supports the ongoing mediation efforts of the Joint Special Representative and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to reach a lasting peace agreement.

NAME TO COME (Spain) highlighted how the United Nations has managed to prevent many conflicts behind the scenes, but nonetheless conflicts still exist.  Today’s conflicts are complex, with numerous factors contributing to them, such as territorial disputes, competition over natural resources such as water, domestic divides, and the threat of terrorism to regions.  This speaks to the need to adapt mediation approaches to the changing nature of conflicts.  A key requirement for successful mediation is consent of all parties and negotiation in good faith, inclusive of the process.  In some cases, mediation is not always the best response to conflicts.  It could be more of a hindrance than a help.  The United Nations must fine‑tune its existing mediation structure and mount joint and unified responses to prevent and resolve conflicts.  Prevention is a priority.

YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said his country has for many years played a positive role in aiding the peaceful settlement of disputes.  Regarding the Mindanao conflict in the Philippines, Japan contributed to a peace agreement between the Government and a former anti‑Government armed group by hosting a meeting of the parties.  His country also deployed experts to the international monitoring team to observe the ceasefire and the socioeconomic situation and to provide community development and other support to help sustain peace in the conflict areas.  It is encouraging to see the efforts of African regional and subregional organizations and others engaging actively in the negotiations or dialogues among all relevant actors to resolve conflicts on the continent.  He also stressed the need to avoid redundancy in initiatives, which will require appropriate engagement at different levels and between Headquarters and the field.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia), associating herself with the European Union, focused on the situation in her country, saying the Geneva international discussions and the incident prevention and response mechanisms have helped to prevent a wide-scale escalation of its conflict with the Russian Federation.  However, those processes have failed to produce tangible and substantial results, she said, emphasizing the importance of neutral and good-faith mediation, as well as concrete measures to prevent the procedural misuse of mediating platforms.  Moreover, mediators should strive to be defenders of the basic principles of international law and the rules-based international system.  She stressed the importance of engaging more women in conflict resolution, noting that, in Georgia, more than 65 per cent of those involved in peace processes, including mediation, are women.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, said the duty of States to settle their differences peacefully is clearly set forth in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter and countless other international instruments.  Commending the Secretary-General’s calls for a “surge in diplomacy for peace”, as well as the tangible action of forming a High-Level Advisory Council on Mediation, he said ongoing United Nations reforms in the management, peace and security and development strands will help to strengthen the Organization’s holistic approach to conflict resolution.  Citing non‑proliferation, legal accountability of those responsible for mass atrocity crimes and follow-up actions of transition processes during post-conflict periods as highly relevant issues, he called for the further enhancement of national capabilities to better support United Nations Special Envoys, greater international cooperation and complementarity in mediation and conflict resolution, and deeper engagement with civil society, women and young people.

NAME TO COME (Sudan) hailed regional efforts to peacefully resolve disputes, particularly by the African Union, which has achieved tangible results in finding African solutions to African problems.  Regional and subregional organizations and neighbouring countries are best placed and the most capable to act as mediators, particularly when conflicts become more complex and spill over borders.  Welcoming partnership between the African Union and the United Nations, he also underscored the role of IGAD in finding a solution to the conflict in South Sudan.

SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that intergovernmental organizations are hindered by complex decision-making.  Inevitably Member States tend to speak with different voices.  Policymaking within an international organization adds another layer of bargaining and trade-offs.  Such a torturous decision-making process, imbued with political trade-offs, saps the United Nations of necessary dynamism and flexibility in pursing mediation.  Since the problems are functional, it may be more realistic to look at functional solutions rather than structural ones.  Rather than try and saddle the United Nations with responsibilities that it is ill-suited to perform, it may be better to look at alternative solutions which use the competencies of the United Nations more judiciously.  Mediation, in every circumstance, is one such task the Organization is not geared to fulfil.  Pakistan’s delegate made a reference to a region in India.  He urged the new Government of Pakistan to contribute to regional stability, free of terror.

GHEORGHE NECULA (Romania) said mediation should not be employed alone, but rather, as part of a more structural approach that involved early warning, preventive diplomacy and analysis of the causes of conflict.  Cooperation and coherence among mediation actors are essential.  Strengthening partnerships inside the United Nations is also important and he welcomed greater cooperation between the Council and Peacebuilding Commission, while stressing there could be no progress without the involvement of women and youth.  Noting that Romania would support strengthening the European Union peace mediation capacities, he said mediation is not simply an “automatic” process of bringing parties to a negotiating table, but must rather be part of a broader culture of building mutual trust and understanding.

GERT AUVAART (Estonia) said it is important to anticipate and react timely to emerging and existing conflicts.  The establishment of the High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation is an important step in the right direction, he said, also emphasizing the essential work of the Department of Political Affairs in the field of prevention and mediation.  Stressing the need to ensure that women are included at decision-making levels and appointed as high-level mediators, he noted his country’s contribution to the peaceful settlements of disputes in Lebanon, Mali and beyond.  It is essential to take note of early warning signs of tension and conflict, he continued, highlighting that Estonia recently became a member of the Peacebuilding Commission.

BRYAN FLYNN (Ireland) said inclusivity is vital to successful mediation.  However, despite evidence that women’s involvement in negotiations can lead to comprehensive peace agreements, they comprised just 2 per cent of mediators in major peace processes between 1990 and 2017.  “This simply must change,” he said, underscoring the need to better recognize and resource women mediators and to connect grass‑roots-level mediation with processes at the national high level.  Advocating improved capacity and resources for conflict prevention, he said Ireland has invested $19.26 million in the Peacebuilding Fund since 2006, and €2.2 million in extra-budgetary support to the mediation support unit since 2008.  This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and he recognized the critical work of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition in the long negotiations leading to that outcome.  The Council has a particular responsibility to support the United Nations enhanced use of mediation to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts, he said, advocating a “quantum leap” in the financing of peacebuilding and conflict prevention work, and urging the Council to support activities that address the root causes of conflict.

NAME TO COME (Libya) said that there are two types of conflicts, one being disputes between States and the other being internal disputes due mainly to political differences.  His country is facing the latter.  Today’s civil war is the result of many challenges.  As the Secretary-General pointed out in a report, there are fragmented armed groups, which make it difficult to mediate.  Internal conflict is very complex, different from past conflicts.  A solution requires a comprehensive view of the situation and clear planning.  His delegation welcomes any United Nations mediation effort.  The peace process must be Libyan-owned, and therefore any foreign intervention will only obstruct mediation efforts.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said that pacific dispute settlement cannot be forced.  Parties must be persuaded by the merits of mediation and well supported in peace processes.  Mediation must take place within normative and legal frameworks constituted by international law and humanitarian law, and respect for the Charter and relevant United Nations resolutions.  Reiterating that all United Nations organs must uphold their commitment to the sovereign equality of States and respect their territorial integrity, he described best practices for mediation, notably preparedness, impartiality and consent of the conflicting parties.  A sense of inclusivity is also needed, as is national ownership and leadership if the parties to a conflict — and society as a whole — are to work towards peace.  Effective mediation also requires gender equality and women’s empowerment, he added.