Statement by Minister Soini at the 6th Ministerial Breakfast of the Group of Friends of Mediation

UN General Assembly 70, New York - Statement by H.E. Mr Timo Soini Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, 6th Ministerial Breakfast of the Group of Friends of Mediation. 1 October 2015, New York.

Check against delivery

I would like to welcome you to this year's Ministerial Meeting of the Friends of Mediation. I am very happy to co-host this meeting together with my colleague
Feridun Sinirlioğlu from Turkey. 

I am pleased to note that so many different cultures from different parts of the world are represented. A warm welcome to all new members to the group.
It is a great personal privilege to chair this group and to continue Finland's contribution to the work on conflict prevention and mediation.

This group has worked together for some years now - to bring mediation to the core of UN's peace work. We should take pride from our work. The UN Peace Operations Report shows that our work has borne fruit. It confirms that conflict prevention and mediation are essential parts of UN's Peace Operations.

The Group of Friends of Mediation was actively involved in the work of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. We hosted a workshop of the Panel and Friends of Mediation in February in Helsinki. Civil society's voice was also heard. Our common efforts were very successful. The Panel has done its job and now the ball is in our corner. We have to make sure that the recommendations of the Report will be put into practice.

The Report highlights the need for political solutions. It also clearly reminds us of the necessity of early action and culture of prevention. These topics are not easy but absolutely necessary to tackle in order to have fewer conflicts in the future. The Report's plea for political support for early action requires action from this group.

Mediation capacity of the UN is a vital element in the moving forward. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is. UN needs more reliable resourcing for its core mediation activities (through the regular budget). This is also the conclusion of the High-Level Panel. I urge all Friends of Mediation to consider also voluntary financial support for UN mediation endeavors. I am confident USG Feltman will refer to these needs also. A dollar spent on mediation can save us many in the future. 

Finland has worked to strengthen partnerships and cooperation in the field of mediation. Friends of Mediation Groups have been formed both in European Union and the OSCE. We have also worked with the African Union to strengthen its mediation capacities. Together with the African Union we held a seminar on African peacemaking in Addis Abeba in May this year. The Seminar agreed on the need for more resources and more cooperation in the field of mediation. I am glad that Under-Secretary-General Feltman is here with us to brief us of the Secretary-General's report on regional organisations' role in mediation.

The role of civil society in mediation and conflict prevention is instrumental. Civil society is often a crucial player in places where official actors are not able to work. Civil society is also often the one with contacts and knowledge that are key in trying to find lasting solutions. We should find mechanisms to benefit fully from experiences and strengths in working with civil societies.

Let me highlight the role of religious and traditional peacemakers. Finland has supported (since 2014) the establishment of a Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.

Tomorrow we will organize - together with our colleagues from the US, Spain and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation - a side event on religious sectarianism.  The aim is to enhance the awareness of sectarianism and support collaborative action in forming effective responses to it. We will be looking at some examples from Libya and Kenya, and we have the honour to have traditional leaders from those countries to share with us their experiences on this issue.

Women's full participation is an urgent priority if we are serious in making mediation successful. Lack of it is a major obstacle to peace. More women must take part in peace processes, including in negotiating teams of conflicting parties. We must all take responsibility in realizing this.

When this group gathered here last year, a wish was expressed for mediation to figure prominently in the discussions concerning the UN Peace Operations Report. This goal has been now reached. Our task is now to roll up our sleeves and put the report's recommendations into practice.