I wish to thank the Presidency, Burkina Faso, for organizing this high-level meeting. The mediation and settlement of disputes lies at the heart of the Organization’s action: namely, its duty to assure peace and security in the world.
Italy confirms its full support for the action that all the United Nations bodies take to prevent conflicts, within their respective areas of expertise.
The Security Council must strengthen and improve its mechanisms for interacting with the Secretary-General and his representatives and envoys engaged in the various Chapter VI actions to settle international disputes. At the same time parameters and modalities have to be identified to enable mediation to start at an early stage, to prevent disputes from degenerating into open conflicts.
The close relationship between peace and security, on the one hand, and development, human rights, and rule of law, on the other, signifies that the other UN bodies also perform mediation activities in a broader sense. In this framework, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council have a contribution to make, especially in the definition of general principles. But other bodies, such as the Peace-Building Commission and the Human Rights Council, also have a role to play. Peacebuilding often requires the inclusion of important aspects of mediation in a political stabilization process, namely in the implementation phase of a peace agreement. The special procedures of the Human Rights Council (rapporteurs, independent experts, etc.) can also be employed to define aspects – such as respect for human rights and free and fair elections – that are often vital to the success of mediation efforts.
The Secretary-General has a leading role in this field. This is why we support the initiatives to strengthen the Secretariat’s mediation capacity, in particular through the expansion of the Department of Political Affairs and the creation of the Mediation Support Unit within the Department. In addition to streamlining existing instruments, this upgrading exercise requires adequate resources. In the perspective of an early-alert system, we welcome a more effective and better coordinated United Nations presence in the field, through the local offices of the DPA, political and peace missions, United Nations Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies in the framework of System Wide Coherence.
The capacity of regional organizations should be strengthened by favouring the conclusion of agreements between them and the United Nations. We would support having the Security Council invite the mediators appointed by regional organizations to report on their activities in this forum on a more frequent basis. The European Union has been one of the first Organizations to work toward assuring effective cooperation with the United Nations.
One particularly effective modality is the appointment of joint mediators, holding a mandate from both the relevant regional organization and the United Nations. The advantage of such a figure is twofold: he or she will be more knowledgeable of a local reality and thus better able to influence the negotiating process; at the same time, by placing the mediation under the UN aegis it comes to represent the international community as a whole and thus gain in universal legitimization and political support.
On the basis of the experience that Italy has gained since the early 1990s through our action in Mozambique, we believe that one of the keys to successful mediation is the active role of civil society. Non-governmental organizations can – when strongly rooted in the territory or interacting effectively with the parties to the conflict – make a unique contribution. Forms of concrete interaction with these stakeholders, also on the part of the Security Council, can be reinvigorated in view of already consolidated experiences. In the framework of civil society’s contribution, close attention should be paid to the role of women, which the Security Council has often acknowledged (pursuant to resolution 1325/2000 on women, peace, and security).
Finally, Mr. President, Italy’s experience teaches us that mediation does not stop at the negotiation of a peace agreement. It then has to be implemented. We could call this activity micro-mediation with the interested parties, and it is pertinent to the action, for example, of peace-keeping contingents, which interact on a daily basis in the field with the parties concerned. In this case it is a question of settling a wide variety of problems, ranging from humanitarian assistance to the organization of elections or the protection of minorities, but that often closely affect the issues or interests at the root of the conflict.
In conclusion, I wish to assure the strong support of Italy for the Declaration that we are about to adopt.