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Peace mediation: Working for peace

Peace mediation in Somalia

Peace mediation in Somalia, © Berghof Foundation

18.06.2019 - Article

Mediation is an effective instrument for re‑establishing and consolidating peace. The Federal Foreign Office’s Peace Mediation Strategy will be presented in Berlin on 14 June 2019.

Whether in Ukraine, Libya, Iraq or Nicaragua, Germany is actively involved in peace mediation in many different contexts.

What does mediation mean?

Peace mediation means efforts by a third party accepted by all sides to facilitate on a voluntary basis the resolution of a conflict. This mediation may take place in either formal or informal processes. It may be used in a variety of circumstances, from conflict prevention and support for ceasefire negotiations to political reform processes at various levels of society.

For example, Germany is not only acting as a direct mediator (in Ukraine, for instance), but is also supporting over 30 peace processes worldwide via the Federal Foreign Office, by making available its own mediation experts or facilitating dialogue processes at regional or local level (e.g. in Libya, Iraq or Nicaragua).

Ideally, peace mediation will defuse a conflict before it escalates. If a conflict has already escalated, mediators can help prevent a worsening of the situation, keep channels of communication open and finally initiate peace talks.

Implementing crisis prevention guidelines

Since 2014, the Federal Foreign Office has continuously expanded its engagement in peace mediation. In so doing, it has implemented goals set forth in the guidelines on “Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace”. The Federal Foreign Office has now embedded its approach, which is committed to certain values, principles and methods, in a framework strategy. The aim is to be able to respond flexibly to different conflict situations, while pursuing both peace policy and political interests.

In this context, Germany’s engagement is based on foreign-policy interests and at the same time on democratic values, alliance obligations and the pursuit of active peace policy.

For example, in Yemen, the Federal Foreign Office is doing whatever it can to support the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to reactivate the peace process. As the first donor to a new UN fund, we are pushing through the rapid implementation of confidence-building measures, because there can be no improvement in the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the country without a permanent ceasefire. Informal political talks among high-ranking Yemenis from all parties with the Berghof Foundation are intended to lay the groundwork for official negotiations.

In Colombia, the peace agreement between the Government and the FARC guerillas brought an end to a civil war that had lasted for more than 50 years. Here, too, Germany is playing a crucial part in the implementation of the agreement and the continuing process of reconciliation in the country.

Training mediators

Another element of the Federal Foreign Office’s mediation strategy is investing in training mediators. There are still too few such experts for the number of international conflicts and crises. One goal is therefore to have access to our own mediators, at the Federal Foreign Office and in cooperation with major partner institutions, who could provide prompt, flexible support for peace processes and bring added expertise to international Teams.

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