The Government Programme states that Finland wants to build peace. This means, among other things, that conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding will be given a stronger priority of Finland's foreign policy.
Mediation is an effective instrument for the entire conflict cycle, starting from the prevention of a conflict to its control and resolution. Permanent solutions to conflicts can only be achieved by addressing the underlying political, economic and social problems.
Mediation is used to support the achievement of a lasting peace through creating a foundation for political, economic and social institutions.
In Finland's mediation profile, the key project concerns the development of a normative and institutional basis for mediation in international organisations. Mediation is based on the UN Charter, but it must be supported by more detailed guidelines.
Improved guidelines have facilitated peace mediators' work in the field and created so-called "space for mediation".
In addition, Finland implements and funds projects that support mediation and invests in measures that strengthen its national mediation capacity.
Finland's objectives and activities in the field of mediation were defined in Finland's National Action Plan for Mediation, issued in 2011.
Finland's mediation expertise
Over the years, Finland has accumulated experience and expertise of peace processes in, for example, North Ireland, the Western Balkans, Aceh, the Horn of Africa and the South Caucasus.
Internationally renowned Finnish peace mediators have been active in these crises.
Finland makes use of its previous experience of mediation and will continue to further enhance its mediation capacity.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs enrols Finnish public servants on international mediation training courses and examines opportunities for developing more systematic and extensive mediation capacity and competencies.
The first Finnish study book on mediation "Rauhanvälitys – suomalaisia näkökulmia" (Mediation – Finnish perspectives) was published in 2014, sponsored by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and edited by KATU - the Civil Society Conflict Prevention Network.
The annual Ahtisaari Day, organised by the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the National Board of Education and the Ministry of Education and Culture, seeks to enhance information about mediation at all levels in society.
Mediation Coordinator and national Mediation Coordination Group
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has a mediation team and a national Mediation Coordination Group, which convenes under the Ministry's leadership.
The Coordination Group gathers actors relevant to mediation from different sectors of society to share information about mediation and peace processes and to explore possible forms of cooperation.
Group of Friends of Mediation in the UN
The Group of Friends of Mediation, set up by Finland and Turkey in 2010, has succeeded in efforts to strengthen mediation in practice: the Group has drafted and negotiated four mediation resolutions.
The first resolution in 2011 ("Strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution") was the first resolution on mediation in the UN's history. It was followed by a second resolution in 2012, after which mediation has been a regular item on the General Assembly agenda.
The third mediation resolution, adopted in July 2014, dealt with the role of regional organisations in mediation.
The fourth resolution was adopted in September 2016. It is based on the previous resolutions and calls for an increasingly effective use of mediation in conflict resolution. It emphasises, among other things, improved support for mediation and strengthening of its professional nature, civil society's significance, and mainstreaming of the dimension relating to women, peace and security into mediation.
Based on the first resolution on mediation, the UN Secretary-General prepared the UN Guidance to Ensure Effective Conflict Mediation, which is a kind of basic mediation directory. It is available also in Finnish and Swedish.
Strengthening the EU's mediation capacity
The Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities, adopted by the EU in 2009, helps to examine the Union's mediation capacity and opportunities for its development. In the EU Foreign Affairs Council of October 2016, the Member States undertook to comply with the new European Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. The Strategy emphasises the need to strengthen the Union's capacity to assume an integrated approach to conflicts and crises. The Global Strategy lays special emphasis on conflict prevention and mediation, regarding them as an important element in the EU's toolkit.
In the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Peacebuilding, Conflict Prevention and Mediation Unit is responsible for mediation matters. Finland support the EEAS' efforts to strengthen its mediation capacities and considers it important that sufficient resources be provided to the Peacebuilding, Conflict Prevention and Mediation Unit.
The EU Group of Friends of Mediation, founded in 2014, is co-chaired by Finland and Spain.
Finland, together with Sweden, played a key role in the establishment of the European Institute of Peace (EIB) in 2014. Pekka Haavisto chaired the Board of Directors of the EIB from October 2016 to June 2019, that is, until his appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Support for regional organisations
Regional organisations, such as the African Union, often play an important role in peace processes. They are well informed of conflict situations and operating close to them and the parties involved.
Finland co-chairs the OSCE Group of Friends of Mediation, founded in 2014, together with Turkey and Switzerland.
Finland has supported the African Union in its efforts to strengthen its mediation capacity.
In addition to financial support, Finland has contributed to the strengthening of organisations' mediation capacities, among other things, by means of seconding mediation experts to the UN and the OSCE, that is, by paying the experts' salaries.
Finland supports regional mediation activities as well as Finnish and international mediation organisations. Support is given from appropriations for development cooperation and other purposes.
Finland's flagship projects in mediation include strengthening of dialogues in the Syria conflict and the Myanmar Peace Process, support to strengthening the African Union's mediation capacity, the Nordic Women Mediators' Network, and the Gender & Inclusive Mediation training, funded by Finland and Norway (the Finnish implementing agency is Crisis Management Initiative CMI), as well as support to the Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers (the network secretariat is Finn Church Aid).
The Foreign Ministry has an appropriation of EUR 500,000 for mediation. The appropriation is used for operative mediation requiring rapid reaction and for building partnerships of cooperation.
Finland has organised National Dialogues Conferences in Helsinki in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Women, Peace and Security
In its mediation activities, Finland pays special attention to measures that enhance the role and ownership of women in peace processes in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, “Women, Peace and Security”.
Finland has its own National Action Plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325, and Finnish experiences have been shared with partners in countries such as Kenya and Afghanistan.
Women play a very important part in bringing about a lasting peace, and it is essential that they have access to the negotiating table both as mediators and as representatives of society.
Women must be seen first and foremost as critical actors and not merely as victims of conflicts.
Nordic Women Mediators' Network
Nordic actors have sought to strengthen their cooperation, coordination and training activities related to mediation.
In addition, the Nordic countries founded the Nordic Women Mediators' Network in the autumn of 2015. The network aims to bring together Nordic women who have experience of mediation tasks or peace talks and to discuss different ways of training, mentoring and actively developing women's competences and ways of recruiting them to mediation tasks.
Nordic Women Mediators' Network builds on national women mediators’ networks in all five Nordic Countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Finland's network, which was established by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs also in 2015, consists of sixteen leading professionals in peace and security, with expertise ranging from civilian crisis management and international law to diplomacy and peace mediation.
Youth, Peace and Security
Young people and youth organisations are important partners in building sustainable peace.
UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) are significant achievements in recognising the positive role of young people in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict situations.
Finland plays an active role in discussions on the theme of youth, peace and security. In March 2019, we hosted the first International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes in Helsinki, where recommendations were prepared on ways to enhance the participation of young people in peace processes and increase their opportunities to influence these. It appears that Finland is the first country in the world to launch preparations for a national UNSCR 2250 action plan in cooperation with youth organisations. We have also strengthened the operational capacity of the Office of the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth by posting a Finnish adviser to work at the Office.