At an event held at Bio Rex in Helsinki on 14 December, Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja presented the Action Plan for Mediation, drawn up in keeping with the Government Programme.
The action plan prepared by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs lists both international and national measures helping to increase cooperation and expertise in peace mediation. The action plan also includes examples of Finland’s activities and projects in peace mediation.
Minister Erkki Tuomioja thanked all the various civil society organisations that had provided important comments on the contents of the action plan. The comments received supported the augmentation of Finland’s peace mediation efforts. They welcomed measures to increase training and research in peace mediation and underlined women’s role in peace processes. Another important issue is to ensure sufficient resources, especially funding.
The same themes arose in the comments made at the publication event. The representatives of civil society organisations were very satisfied with the Action Plan for Mediation and welcomed it warmly; they even presented new proposals as to how they could contribute to its implementation. They also praised the opportunity to present comments on the action plan while it was being drafted. It was easy to agree with Minister Tuomioja’s remark that the most important task of peace mediation is to become redundant.
Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala brought up peace mediation taking place in developing countries, which can be funded from development cooperation appropriations. In order to finance peace mediation as quickly and flexibly as possible from development cooperation funds, the Foreign and Development Ministers have agreed on a separate model for handling peace mediation projects.
Foreign Minister Tuomioja stressed the importance of wider national cooperation for giving concrete expression to the content of the action plan and for implementing it. The Foreign Ministry has a peace mediation coordinator. A coordination group for peace mediation, bringing together the authorities and civil society actors, will be appointed in the near future.
In supporting peace mediation, Finland can focus on issues where we have strong expertise. Both ministers stressed Finland’s know-how regarding the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Civil society organisations also considered it highly desirable to invest in this. Other themes raised at the publication event included democracy, human rights and reconciliation processes.
The Foreign Minister presented the five parts of the action plan: Finnish activities to develop international mediation; promotion of Finland’s own mediation capacity; increasing Finnish participation in international mediation; thematic and regional areas of focus; and funding.
Finland’s active international efforts to support peace mediation have led to concrete results. In connection with the UN General Assembly in autumn 2010, a group called the Friends of Mediation, consisting of States and organisations, was established at the initiative of Finland and Turkey.
The central achievement of the Friends of Mediation is the first UN Resolution on peace mediation, achieved under the leadership of Finland and Turkey and adopted by the General Assembly unanimously in June. The Resolution emphasises the strengthening of UN peace mediation, increased cooperation between the UN, regional organisations and governments, and a stronger role for women in peace processes. Minister Tuomioja said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has given even embarrassingly positive praise to the Resolution (“a groundbreaking development that positions the Organisation as a standard setter for mediation”).
Minister Tuomioja has also presented an initiative for the establishment of a Nordic peace mediation network. This would bring more efficiency to the Nordic peace mediation cooperation among both the authorities and researchers.
A prerequisite for being admitted to international, high-level peace mediation tasks is that there is a national political vision and the expression of support for the candidates. In order to intensify Finland’s participation, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has appointed Kimmo Kiljunen, Ph.D. (Pol. Sc.), as Special Representative for regional peace mediation tasks. In addition, Pekka Haavisto, MP, will continue as the Foreign Minister’s Special Representative in the Horn of Africa and Sudan.
Orientation and training for peace mediation will be developed in cooperation with crisis management experts, providers of training, universities and research communities, and other civil society organisations.