A mediation team with some of the world’s leading experts in ceasefires, transitional justice, power-sharing and constitutional arrangements is now on standby to help resolve crises around the world, the United Nations’ top political official announced today.
The new UN Mediation Standby Team is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the ability of the UN’s Department of Political Affairs to help prevent conflict through assistance to diplomacy, according to B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
“What we are trying to do in this process is to make sure that not only do we carry out the Secretary-General’s efforts to be there fast in mediation and to be there very quickly on the ground when we’re asked by Member States or regional organizations, but also to make sure that we’ll be there with the very best expertise that’s available anywhere in the world,” Mr. Pascoe said as he launched the initiative at a Headquarters news conference.
Demand for mediation assistance has grown steadily in recent years, Mr. Pascoe said, noting the long list of recent talks, in particular those that set up power-sharing arrangements to end the post-election violence in Kenya and attempts to end the armed activity of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda.
And the situations are becoming increasing complex. “These are not places where you can go out and begin a negotiation by the seat of your pants,” the Under-Secretary-General noted. Even the most seasoned UN envoys usually need specialized advice.
For that reason, the Standby Team was chosen from a slate of hundreds of candidates, through a rigorous process that included nominations from UN Member States, tests and interviews.
The founding members of the team are led by Joyce Neu of the United States, who has mediated in dozens of countries around the world, some of which as adviser to US President Jimmy Carter and as founding Executive Director of the Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego.
Other members include Jeffery Mapendere of Zimbabwe, an expert in security arrangements; Patrick Gavigan of the US and Ireland, whose field is transitional justice and human rights; John McGarry of Canada, an expert in power-sharing; and Andrew Ladley of New Zealand, who has done extensive work in constitution-making and elections.
It is hoped that these founding members will be the seed of a much larger group, as their services will be much in demand, Mr. Pascoe said.
Two members of the group have already been dispatched to Kenya this week, to assist in the ongoing African-led mediation efforts there, missing out on the briefings they were meant to receive in New York before they head out to the field, he noted.
The team's activities are being funded in their first year through a donation by the Norwegian Government.