Opening remarks by Germany at the Arria fomula meeting of the Security Council on “Mandating peace: Enhancing the mediation sensitivity and the effectiveness of the UN Security Council”, October 9

10.10.2020 - Speech

Delivered by Sibylle Katharina Sorg, Director-General for Crisis Prevention, Stabilization, Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, and Humanitarian Assistance

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Dear colleagues,

It is my pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the German Federal Government to this Arria meeting on “Mandating peace: Enhancing the mediation sensitivity and the effectiveness of the UN Security Council”.

One of Germany’s major foreign policy priorities is to strengthen the effectiveness of conflict prevention, both – in our bilateral diplomacy and within the multilateral system. This is why mediation – as a tool for the prevention and resolution of violent conflict – is a key element of Germany’s approach to support peace and stability. Germany’s third-party diplomacy is carried out through the Federal Foreign Office’s mediation unit, which is supporting a wide range of initiatives, on all tracks. This includes actively supporting the UN Mediation Support Unit as well as other multilateral and regional actors in strengthening their mediation capacities.

Over the years, we have funded more than 200 projects in theatres worldwide – from Afghanistan to the Middle East, from Sudan to Latin America and South East Asia, to name only a few. In 2015, when the general directorate for stabilization, crisis prevention and peacebuilding was founded, we linked our engagement with track I mediation, and have since gained considerable experience.

At the same time, conflict prevention and mediation are also priorities for Germany’s tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. We have sought to promote these topics consistently throughout the Council’s agenda of work: Examples include the high-level debate on climate and security during our Presidency in July, and our continued engagement as co-penholder together with the UK in accompanying the ongoing transition in Sudan.

This experience has motivated us to examine what role the UN Security Council – as the primary multilateral organ on peace and security – could play in mediation. So we delved into this topic. Quickly it became evident that for over two decades, rigorous policy discussions on UNSC mandates for peace operations such as peacekeeping missions have sought to develop best practice and heighten the effectiveness of these operations. By contrast, formal policy discussions on the effects of UNSC mandates for mediation and special political missions are in their infancy. Consequently, there is no collective awareness of what constitutes ‘best practice’ and ‘worst practice’ in UNSC mandates for mediation.

We therefore commissioned research addressing this gap by examining the role and practice of the UN Security Council with regard to mediation. We were lucky to work with Professor Laurie Nathan, Director of the Mediation Programme at the Joan Kroc Institute of Notre Dame University, who will present the findings. The research is based on interviews with Senior UN Mediators, such as Nicholas Haysom, who is here with us today. The study examined various peace processes including the Central African Republic, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It has been carried out in close cooperation with the UN’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) and I would like to thank the Mediation Support Unit for their valuable insights.

This event constitutes the first public presentation of the study. We considered it apt to do so in the UN Security Council and with experts like yourselves. Our aim today is threefold:

  • to launch a process of reflection on the UN Security Council’s role in mediation processes,
  • to start a policy debate and
  • to generate concrete proposals on how the findings of the study could be addressed.

Against this background, we would like to use this meeting to reflect on a few questions:

  1. Are UNSC mediation mandates too political to succeed?
  2. How can UNSC-mandated mediations create an enabling environment for the mediation process, the mediator and the parties?
  3. How can the UNSC ensure coherence among key actors?
  4. How can the UNSC ensure that its mandates allow the mediator to react flexibly to the mediation dynamics in a given context?
  5. What specific actions would you recommend to strengthen the UN Security Council’s mediation effectiveness?
  6. How can we deepen policy debates on UNSC mandates for mediation, within the Council and/or outside?

I am looking forward to a rich discussion and your contributions.

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