75 years of United Nations mediation, preventing conflict

The Knotted Gun Monument outside the United Nations building, New York City, USA The Knotted Gun Monument outside the United Nations building, New York City, USA © Wikipedia

In Focus by Carla Pintor

Conflict prevention is the Organisation's core interest and it remains a guiding principle behind the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General's current call for a global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Conflict prevention usually takes place in five stages, although these are not always easy to follow. The first step is to carefully observe the areas where there is tension, by being on site to better understand what is really happening. For this reason, the UN Department of Political Affairs and Peace Building (DPPA) has more than 35 special political missions around the world. Secondly, the UN tries to work on the political track in advance, maintaining links with government officials and other key players. The third ingredient is to include many voices to build consensus and momentum for peace, particularly those of women and youth. Regional and international partnerships are the fourth element and aim to link short-term political work with long-term peace-building and development efforts. Finally, the UN is committed to focusing the political will of all actors to fight conflicts.

However, mediators today are hampered by a number of challenges that require the UN to develop new strategies to mediate armed conflicts that unite various actors for a common objective. Therefore, the UN Director of DPPA’s Policy and Mediation Division, Teresa Whitfield, stressed the need to maximize new technologies, with particular attention to the next generation, while considering structural issues for incremental progress towards sustainable peace.


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