Statement by H.E. Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, at the Sixth Ministerial meeting of the “Group of Friends of Mediation"

H.E. Feridun Sinirlioğlu 29.09.2015

Excellencies, Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Sixth Ministerial meeting of the “Group of Friends of Mediation”.

This Ministerial Breakfast has now become a General Assembly tradition, and we are proud of that.

We are together again to discuss how we can further our joint efforts to promote peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Today, we are joined by H.E. José Ramos-Horta, the Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. He is going to share with us the findings of the Panel, especially in terms of mediation.

We also have with us H.E. Jeffrey Feltman, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs who will share his views on mediation efforts.

Dear Colleagues,

We formed this group back in 2010 because we all agreed then, as now, that mediation, as a method, deserves much more credit than it usually receives.

Indeed, the increasingly complex challenges undermining international peace and security are a clear testimony to how right we were. Left unattended, these challenges lead to increasing instability, triggering all manner of risks ranging from war crimes to spontaneous mass migration.

Some analysts claim that we are living in “the age of disruption”.

That may or may not be true, but either way, at a time of such complexity and uncertainty, proactive efforts to contain and meaningfully address the multiple crises we are faced with have become an absolute imperative.

In this general setting, the need for effective mediation has never been greater. Mediation is still the most efficient and economic method of preventing, managing and resolving conflicts.

Our Group has made commendable progress in raising awareness for the importance of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution.

We have generated considerable interest in support of mediation within the UN and beyond. As a result of our joint efforts, the Friends Group is now perceived as the leading point of reference for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and especially for mediation.

With a total of 49 members, we have a representative group with countries from every continent.

Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate and welcome our latest member, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To recap: as the Group of Friends of Mediation, we have so far concentrated our joint efforts on contributing to the evolving theoretical and conceptual framework on mediation. Since 2010, we have facilitated the adoption of three General Assembly resolutions on mediation.

The resolution adopted in 2011 was the first-ever resolution on mediation despite the fact that the pacific settlement of disputes is at the heart of the UN Charter.

The same was also true last year regarding the third resolution on the role and importance of regional and sub-regional organizations in mediation. Chapter 8 of our Charter has explicitly recognized and encouraged regional arrangements for settlement of disputes for the maintenance of international peace and security.

So; it was only last year that we directly addressed the important role they play in this respect together with crucial issues, such as ensuring coordination, coherence and cooperation.

The Group has also contributed to the publication of the UN’s Guidance for Effective Mediation. Through our endeavors to disseminate and utilize it widely, it has established itself as the reference document in this field.

We have worked in support of the UN’s leading role in promoting mediation and preventive diplomacy as well.

In brief, our Group has indeed covered important ground.

In my view, we have now reached an important juncture.

It is time for the Group to take the necessary steps to translate these accomplishments from the normative framework into action, and to make a difference on the ground. This way, we can keep up the good momentum.

This is where the strategic reviews initiated by the Secretary General come in.

These reviews seek to steer the UN system on its 70th anniversary to counter the challenges in today’s rapidly changing world.

Turkey is pleased to have offered both individually and together with other members of the Group of Friends of Mediation its input for the consideration of the Panel. In our contribution as the members of the Friends Group, we underscored the importance of conflict prevention and mediation for maintaining international peace and security.

The main focus of the Report of the High-Level Panel is, of course, peace operations. We are pleased to see that the peaceful resolution of conflicts and mediation is addressed in the findings of the Report.

We applaud the important recommendations of the Report on bringing conflict prevention and mediation back to the fore.

As laid out in the report, we agree with the need for the 4 essential shifts identified in the Report; namely, giving primacy to politics; the flexible use of the full spectrum of UN peace operations; a more inclusive peace and security partnership; and transforming the UN Secretariat to become field-focused, while making peace operations more people-centered.

I am also pleased to see that these recommendations echo the founding philosophy of the Group of Friends of Mediation and our earlier work.

For example, the Report underlines the need for a “culture of prevention”. This is exactly why we came together as a group of likeminded countries in the first place.
The Report specifically mentions our group as a testimony to the growing interest, in a collective manner, in the prevention of conflicts.

The Report also calls for the strengthening of UN conflict prevention and mediation efforts. This has been our main focus since 2010. This call is in line with the Secretary General’s earlier remarks indicating the fact that the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) is understaffed, under-resourced, and disproportionately reliant upon voluntary contributions. It was in the light of these findings that we had requested an assessment of the DPA’s mediation activities for a more complete understanding of the constraints it faces during our Ministerial Meeting in 2013.

We continue to keep the issue of the financing of the DPA’s mediation efforts high on the agenda. We must get rid of this excessive reliance on voluntary contributions.

Allow me to recall here that our commitment in this regard is reflected in action: To be precise, out of the 26 total donors that provided extra-budgetary funding to the DPA’s Multi-Year Appeal, 16 are our members; a number that is good but can be better.

The Report further highlights the importance of promoting the role of women in mediation and developing cooperation with relevant actors, including the civil society. These are also among the issues addressed by the work of our Group.

Dear Colleagues,

I extend my congratulations to H.E. Ramos-Horta on the excellent work the Panel has accomplished. He and the distinguished members of the Panel approached all relevant stakeholders in an inclusive manner and encouraged as much input as possible

I hope that for the purposes of our Group, the follow-up work to the Report will include concrete steps to bring conflict prevention and mediation back to the forefront.

This will help our joint endeavors to make an actual difference.

With 39 missions across 4 continents involving the deployment of 128.000 people, peace operations are “the most visible face of the UN”.

In this regard, the Report of the Secretary General on the recommendations of the Panel is an important step forward. We note that the Secretary General, in his response, calls for an action plan for a renewed focus on prevention and mediation, stronger regional-global partnerships and new ways of planning and conducting UN peace operations.

As the Secretary General has recently highlighted in an open debate, “strengthening conflict prevention and mediation saves lives”. This indeed shows us once again why mediation matters.

In this connection and in anticipation of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit to be hosted in Turkey in May next year, I would like to underline that our failure to find political solutions to today’s conflicts also hampers efforts to provide humanitarian relief to those who are severely affected.

I now leave the floor to my co-chair, Timo. We are then going to listen to the remarks by Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. He will be followed by our guest speaker.

Afterwards, we will open the floor for an interactive debate to jointly explore the findings of the Panel Report as it relates to mediation.

Thank you.