New Guidelines Strengthen UN Conflict Mediation Efforts Worldwide

New guidelines were unveiled today by the United Nations that aim to strengthen the world body’s conflict mediation efforts worldwide.

UN Conflict Mediation Effort Aims

The new guidelines will specifically help mediators address the problem of sexual violence in conflict by placing the issue high on the agenda when brokering peace agreements and ceasefires.

“The use of sexual violence to degrade and intimidate men, women or children in war is an intolerable practice.” – Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe

Margot Wallstrom on UN Conflict Mediation
Margot Wallstrom, Special Representative of the SecretaryGeneral on Sexual Violence in Conflict, holds a press conference at the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), Switzerland. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

He stresses that UN mediators must be sensitized to the problem and have the know-how to push for agreements at the peace table that can help stop it and to prevent its recurrence.

The new guidelines were developed by the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and is entitled “Guidance for Mediators on addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements.”

The new guidelines will support efforts by other UN entities to combat the problem.

Security Threat

Security Council has considered sexual violence a threat to security and an impediment to peace.

Included in the guidelines is the inclusion of sexual violence in the definition of cease-fires and the monitoring of them.

Among its key principles, the guidance obliges mediators to engage parties in discussing the issue and to work towards firm commitments to cease all acts of conflict-related sexual violence.

“Negotiations and the cease-fires or peace agreements they produce are crucial moments of opportunity to do something to combat this terrible scourge.” – Mr. Pascoe

The United Nations Secretary-General aims to increase the participation of women in resolving conflict around the world. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented an address on this matter to the UN General Assembly last week. In that address, Mr Ban outlined his top priorities for 2011, and women’s empowerment was at the head of the list.

The conflict resolution guidelines are expected to be issued to all UN mediators and mission chiefs. It is incorporated in training and briefing materials for envoys and their teams.

The guidelines also promote the inclusion of sexual violence in the definition of acts covered by a ceasefire and monitored for. The guidelines also suggest ways to address the problem in peace accord provisions related to security and justice.

Mr. Pascoe said, “We are working on it, but we are not as good as we need to be; we need women’s talent in a mediation role and we need strong involvement of women from all the conflicting parties. Only then, can we be sure that we are paying appropriate attention to the gender dimensions of conflict and assembling our best talent to resolve the conflict and keep it from re-emerging.”

Mr. Pascoe said the latest UN Conflict Mediation focus was to stop potential crises early, before they escalate. The preventive action aims to prevent massive and costly international interventions.

New Report

On August 2011, a United Nations official reported that women and girls fleeing famine in Somalia were being raped or abducted and forced into marriage by bandits and other armed groups as they tried to reach refugee camps in Kenya.

During the long and perilous journey from Somalia to the camps in Kenya, women and girls are subjected to attacks, including rape, by armed militants and bandits. Once they cross the Somalia-Kenya border or reach Dadaab – the world’s largest refugee settlement – their hopes of finding a safe haven are often overshadowed by new dangers and hardships, including the risk of rape.

These latest efforts in UN Conflict Mediation were well received by most member states.

famine. UN photo.
Somalia is gripped by a devastating drought and famine that has already killed tens of thousands and is leaving many hundreds of thousands more, particularly young children and babies, in desperate need of emergency lifesaving humanitarian assistance from the outside world. UN Conflict Mediation EffortsUN photo.
Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.