Speech by Secretary of State Torstila at the Crisis Management and Mediation – Nordic experiences Seminar

Keynote speech by Secretary of State Mr. Pertti Torstila at the Crisis Management and Mediation – Nordic experiences Seminar, Lahti, 27 September 2012.

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Dear Colleagues, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this seminar to discuss the link between peace mediation and crisis management. My special welcoming words go to my colleagues, Mr. Frank Belfrage, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and Mrs. Bente Angell-Hansen, Secretary General for Foreign Affairs of Norway, good and close colleagues from two important neighboring countries, who will also speak today.

We will focus on mediation as a part of crisis management and we will share our Nordic experiences. Nordic cooperation is an indispensable and vital part of Finland’s foreign policy. Last year Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja initiated the Nordic mediation network. We see a lot of added value having a common Nordic network which facilitates contacts and exchange of information among various actors involved in mediation and helps to identify possible areas of further cooperation. The network is informal and flexible without formal structures. This seminar is a perfect example of how we Nordics together look into new approaches to global challenges.

Crisis management and mediation are also two key themes in our campaign to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the years 2013-2014.

Indeed, traditional security policy instruments and military defense alone do not suffice to respond to today’s security risks. A more comprehensive approach is needed. It is also clear that no country has the means to respond to these complex challenges alone. In a globalized world security is more and more linked with developments outside national borders and crisis management can begin thousands kilometers away. Violence in remote places can fuel transnational menaces, including terrorism and proliferation.

A key to successful crisis management and mediation is a good and close cooperation between a variety of actors with different backgrounds and expertise, the United Nations, regional and other organizations and governments and the civil society with its many players. We find that our interests often are best advanced through active participation in international multilateral cooperation, be it global, regional or sub-regional.

Global stability adds to our own security and well-being. Crisis management is one way of contributing to ensure stability. The participation in international peacekeeping is our contribution to global burden-sharing, and furthermore develops our own capabilities.

Finland has a longstanding tradition in international peacekeeping and crisis management. The quality and quantity of the Finnish contribution has been widely recognized internationally. Our peacekeeping history dates back to 1950s, to the Suez crisis. After that the Finnish soldiers, over 50 000 men and women have participated in numerous UN missions. The Finnish contribution in the Middle East increased this summer when we returned to the UNIFIL-operation and some 170 Finnish peacekeepers were deployed to Lebanon.
Military crisis management may be needed in acute conflict situations to stop the killing and fighting. However, it is hard to imagine a conflict which could be solved by military means only. In complex missions the civil-military relations, relations with NGOs and training standards are coming to the fore. Today most peacekeeping operations have a broad mandate including a wide range of tasks, such as protection of civilians, support to inclusive political processes, strengthening rule of law and assisting security sector reform. The civilian component is indispensable. Civilian crisis management and civilian actors - police, engineers, human rights experts, gender advisers, doctors and lawyers - are needed to build sustainable peace and stability in the conflict torn country or region.

Finland has become per capita the biggest contributor to the EU civilian crisis management operations. Annually some 130 Finnish civilian experts are sent to conflict areas to support peacekeeping and peace building efforts. It is noteworthy that around 40 % of them are women. Mediation, too, has been an integral part of the Finnish foreign policy, and we have a strong Finnish tradition in mediation. Sakari Tuomioja acted as the first representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General in Cyprus in the 1960s, Harri Holkeri was crucial in the question of Northern Ireland, Martti Ahtisaari received the Nobel Peace Prize for his lifelong work for peace and his organization Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) is a major player in the field. We have decided to reinforce our efforts in peace mediation and prepared a Finnish Action Plan on Mediation. The Action Plan emphasizes that new resources and experts must be found on top of the traditional mediation activities. Cooperation with like-minded countries, organizations and civil society actors is essential for increased effectiveness in mediation, and in raising global awareness as well as increasing the role of women in peace processes.

One of the shortcomings in crisis management and in mediation is clearly the low number of female in leadership positions. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security acknowledges the disproportionate negative effects of war and conflict on women, but also the influence women can and must have in prevention and resolution of conflict, as well as in reconstruction processes. Implementing the Security Council resolution 1325 in all activities relating to crisis management and peace building as well as mediation is a priority for Finland. We are also fully aware of the importance to recruit female soldiers and civilian experts to crisis management tasks. An enhanced role for women will result in more sustainable results. In order to intensify the implementation of the Resolution 1325, Finland has prepared a national Action Plan for the years 2012 to 2016.

In the UN context, in 2010 we started a partnership with Turkey and established together a Group of Friends of Mediation. The aim of the Friends of Mediation Group is to raise awareness within the international community of the importance of mediation as a means of conflict prevention and resolution. To date, the Group of Friends of Mediation comprises 32 UN Member States, United Nations as an organization and seven other regional organizations. Sweden and Norway are obviously members of the group. The particular strength of this group is that it brings together mediators form different continents and from different cultures to share best practices and to promote a culture of mediation. It regularly interacts with civil society.

Thanks to the Group of Friends, the first-ever resolution on mediation in the whole UN system was adopted in the General Assembly by consensus in June 2011. The resolution has been described by the Secretary General of the United Nations as “a groundbreaking development that positions the Organization as a standard setter for mediation”. We can be proud of that achievement.

The most tangible follow-up of the resolution on mediation was the preparation of the UN Guidance for more effective mediation which will be launched today in New York for dissemination and utilization. The guidance is the result of a consultative process, which has brought together states, civil society, mediators and academics from all over the world. It is a much needed reference document, which will be useful for mediators and mediation support teams globally. Indeed, as we speak these activities are being followed up in New York where the General Assembly is meeting and mediation is strongly on the agenda. The most important event for us is the Ministerial meeting "Increase Peace through Mediation" which we are organizing and co-chairing together with Turkey. Minister Tuomioja will chair the meeting together with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey Ahmet Davutoğlu. President Sauli Niinistö will open the meeting.

Cooperation at the regional level is essential, too. Many regional organizations have made significant progress in systematizing their mediation efforts. For instance, the strong determination of the African Union to take responsibility for preventing and managing conflicts on its own continent is commendable. Finland wants to be partner in this, and has been financing a project to support African Union mediation capacities. The ongoing project was launched by former President Ahtisaari in Addis Abeba already in March 2009, partly as a Finnish contribution to the implementation of the Joint EU-Africa Strategy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finland is a strong promoter for EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy including crisis management capabilities. The framework for CSDP was set up in Helsinki during the Finnish EU Presidency in 1999. Following that more than 20 crisis management operations, including military and civilian ones, have been launched by the EU and Finland has participated in most of them. In civilian crisis management the EU has become a leading actor.

There is still room for further development of civil-military cooperation and implementation a truly comprehensive approach to crisis situations, by using the EU toolbox of different instruments to the fullest extent. Finland has actively contributed even to NATO-led crisis management in Kosovo, and in Afghanistan, where we have participated in the ISAF operation from the very beginning, 2002.

The EU has taken further steps in mediation. We want to ensure that the EU is capable of bringing its full contribution to the peace processes, in cooperation and coordination with other actors. In 2009, a Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities was adopted by the Council. It contains several important ideas and concrete suggestions to strengthen EU mediation capacities. A Division of Peace Building, Conflict Prevention and Mediation has been established. We are working on to have the division adequately resourced and necessarily supported for its actions.

I would like to end by appraising the Nordic cooperation.

The Nordic countries have traditionally played an active role in promoting peace and development through international crisis management both in the United Nations as well in the European structures. Due to our shared interests and similar approaches we all have been able to benefit from the Nordic cooperation, be it in Cyprus or in the Balkans.

Today, this is very much true in Afghanistan, where Finland, Sweden and Norway serve in the North of the Country – Finland in the Transition Support Team (TST) Mazar-e-Sharif under Sweden’s command. And the cooperation between our three countries will be further intensified in the coming months.

Our political leaders have a firm commitment to further strengthen the “Nordic approach” in crisis management. Work is going on to find new opportunities for joined participation in international operations. The Nordic contribution to peacekeeping training has been a success story. Through an established division of labour among the Nordic countries’ Defence Forces excellent results have been achieved, and the quality of the Nordic training is internationally recognized. And furthermore, together the Nordic Countries are strengthening the training of commanders and experts in the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, established in Sweden in the framework of Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO).

We also share the valuable experiences from the so called Nordic Battle Group, one of the EU’s Battle groups, which has been on standby twice, in 2008 and 2011. Now we are preparing for the third round of the NBG for the year 2015. We very much value Norway’s participation in the EU Battle Group, as well as Norway’s substantial contribution to EU’s civilian crisis management missions, not least to EU’s Police Mission in Afghanistan.

Nordic defence cooperation is moving forward with common activities in the field of equipment, education and training. A good and concrete example is the establishment of a Nordic cyber security network by the end of this year. At the moment we are also discussing a possible participation of Finland and Sweden in the air surveillance on Iceland.

To support the activities of the EU mediation Finland and Sweden have made an initiative for the establishment of an European Institute of Peace (EIP). We have proposed that the EIP should be an independent think tank based on the common values of the EU. The European External Action Service is at the moment making a study about the EIP and the results will be published at the end of October.

The list of achievements and success stories of the Nordic cooperation is long and impressive.

I would now like to give the floor to my Nordic colleagues to hear about their experiences in mediation and crisis management. The floor is yours.