Remarks by Mr. Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland at the Ministerial Breakfast of the Group of Friends of Mediation

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland at the Ministerial Breakfast of the Group of Friends of Mediation. New York 21 September 2017.

Warmly welcome you to the eight Ministerial Meeting of Group of Friends of Mediation. I am pleased to co-host this meeting together with my colleague Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from Turkey. It is good to see our Group of Friends growing in numbers, now 56. A warm welcome to all new members to the group. Your support to the United Nation's work on conflict prevention and mediation is important in making UN mediation an effective tool to prevent and end conflicts and settle disputes.

During these past seven years, this group has significantly increased attention given to mediation at the UN´s peace work. Our hard work has borne fruit - mediation is today seen as a key element in sustaining peace.  

When the new Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres started his term in the beginning of this year we quickly took notice of his great interest in mediation. On our request the Secretary General submitted the report "United Nations activities in support of mediation" in which he brings up many topics Finland fully endorses. 

The Secretary-General has our group's strong support for his work to make the UN more integrated, efficient and capable of responding to the challenges through mediation. This group has created a "space for mediation" by initiating four resolutions on mediation. These resolutions have given important guidance to the UN and its member states and improved guidelines to peace mediators' work in the field.  It is important that we have established a direct dialogue with Secretary-General Guterres. I believe that the Permanent Representatives of this Group should continue this dialogue on regular basis. In this way we can make our work more operative.

We warmly welcome the Secretary-General’s new High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation and President Tarja Halonen's appointment to this Board. The UN now has eighteen global leaders in its use for mediation. Finland fully endorses the Advisory Board and is ready to offer its good services in order to support the Board.

Finland continues to advocate for women’s full and effective participation as an urgent priority in mediation. Inclusive mediation processes are a key issue also to the Secretary General and we wholeheartedly support this approach.  The relevance of women's participation in peace processes is widely understood. But for no obvious reason to me, still neglected in many cases. We must make sure that more women as well as young people participate in peace processes. I am pleased to see that women mediator networks are emerging in many regions. Nordic Women Mediators network is one of them.

I have nominated, Mrs. Jutta Urpilainen, who is here today, as my Special Representative on mediation. Jutta is - a former Minister of Finance and a MP. In her work she will focus on women and young people in Africa. Key elements for sustainable security as we know.


How can we strengthen the mediation capacity of the UN? In order to achieve sustainable peace how can we improve the participation of women, young people and religious leaders in peace processes? We should find practical ways to improve our work on mediation locally and regionally. We should also look how we can support the mediation work done at the UN.

Maybe we could do some division of labour? As well as building new partnerships for joint action.

Finland – on her part - has organized three Conferences on National Dialogue and Mediation Processes in Helsinki. The latest one was held in April this year. And I am pleased to note that the Secretary General also has stressed the importance of inclusivity and local engagement. Finland has also hosted, since 2014, the Helsinki Policy Forum bringing together political leaders, parliamentarians and government officials from Europe, the Gulf, Middle East and North Africa to work towards a sustainable dialogue on peace and security in the region. 

Building mediation capacities is very important. Finland has for example supported the efforts aiming at strengthening the African Union's Mediation Capacity. 

Enhancing capacities and building partnerships is crucial. This basically means that we need to advocate and act on mediation also outside the United Nations framework. Finland co-chairs the Group of Friends of Mediation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe together with Turkey and Switzerland and the Group of Friends of Mediation of the European Union together with Spain. I am pleased to say that mediation is becoming an important topic also in these fora. Exchanging lessons learned and experiences with regional organizations is of great value and we encourage strengthening interactions even further. 

I hope that our discussion will be informal, innovative and solution-driven.


Let me now introduce our first guest of honor, President of the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák. 

Excellency, in your statement at the opening session of the seventy-second General Assembly on Tuesday you referred to the importance of prevention. You stated that peace and prevention should be at the center of everything the UN does. I could not agree more with you. I want you to know that we here are at your service in this work.