Political Missions, Mediation and Good Offices - Center on ...

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Political Missions, Mediation and Good Offices - Center on ...

32 | Thematic Essayssupporting mediation by others, the series of crisesthat have assailed the region.The office was slow to develop an effectivepartnership with ECOWAS. However, it helpeddraw attention to the cross-border nature of theregion’s many threats to security ong>andong> played a leadingrole in facilitating the implementation of theOctober 2002 ruling by the International Courtof Justice on the boundary between Cameroonong>andong> Nigeria. It has also been directly involved inregional ong>andong> international responses to the successionof crises that have developed in Guinea,Mauritania, Niger ong>andong> Togo.UNOWA works with several advantages. Itsregional mong>andong>ate ong>andong> physical location in Dakar,Senegal – long a hub for UN agencies ong>andong> programmes,as well as among the most stable of WestAfrican countries – mean that it is inherently lessthreatening to the sovereignty of any one of thecountries under its purview than a nationally locatedpolitical mission. When relations with other actorsin the UN system are working well, it can effectivelyengage in sensitive issues whilst providing adegree of political cover to the UN Resident Coordinators,agencies ong>andong> programmes who may seekless complex relations with national actors. Moreover,the circumstances of its creation – by exchangeof letters between the Secretary-General ong>andong> thePresident of the Security Council – ong>andong> the minimalreporting demong>andong>ed of it, allow it to work witha high degree of discretionThe interlocking threats to ong>andong> in West Africaboth ensure an active response at the regional levelong>andong> complicate its orchestration. Neighboringstates – particularly the long>andong>locked states of BurkinaFaso ong>andong> Mali – have great interest in maintaining adegree of stability in Guinea, for example, ong>andong> canbe counted on to invest time ong>andong> resources in preventingits implosion. Meanwhile at the multilaterallevel, the close coordination between Said Djinnit,the former AU Peace ong>andong> Security Commissionerwho became SRSG for West Africa in February2008, ong>andong> Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who untilearly 2010 was President of the ECOWASCommission, underpinned the evolving partnershipbetween the two entities ong>andong> their effectivecollaboration with the African Union.The UN’s second regional mission, the UNRegional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy inCentral Asia (UNRCCA), which is based inGreek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias (right) ong>andong> then Turkish Cypriotleader Mehmet Ali Talat (left) meeting under UN auspices on Cyprus.Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, also operates in complicatedterrain. A lengthy period of negotiationresulted in a broad mong>andong>ate to assist the five CentralAsian states to respond to existing threats ong>andong>emerging challenges. The Centre’s 2009-2011plan of action focuses on cross border threats fromillicit activities (terrorism, organized crime ong>andong>drug-trafficking); environmental degradation ong>andong>resource management; ong>andong> the implications of thesituation in Afghanistan.Although working with a minimal staff, ong>andong>without the presence of a robust sub-regionalorganization such as ECOWAS as a counterpart,UNRCCA’s SRSG, Miroslav Jenca, has graduallybeen able to build up the credibility of his office.He secured a relatively high degree of access tothe region’s governments – none of which wouldhave accepted a political mission established on anational basis – ong>andong> developed effective relationshipswith the region’s UN Resident Coordinators.Preventive work on the pressing problem of waterscarcity drew upon additional expertise from DPA’sStong>andong>by ong>Mediationong> facility ong>andong> underlined the utilityof UN technical expertise as an entry point to anissue of evident political sensitivity. In the wake ofthe uprising that toppled the government of PresidentKurmanbek Bakiyev in Kyrgzystan in earlyApril 2010, UNRCCA worked closely with theOSCE in the interests of an effective internationalresponse to the crisis.UN Photo


ong>Politicalong> ong>Missionsong>, ong>Mediationong> ong>andong> ong>Goodong> ong>Officesong> | 33ConclusionThis whistlestop account of the wide variety ofgood offices ong>andong> mediation undertaken by politicalmissions suggests the difficulty of drawing broadconclusions from their efforts. Yet in this rapidlyevolving field some patterns are discernible.ong>Politicalong> missions conduct more good officesong>andong> mediation takes place more frequently thanthe number of formal negotiations, or overtly mong>andong>atedactivities would suggest. This is a natural ong>andong>ethical response to the challenges posed to politicalmissions by the complexity of the circumstancesinto which they are deployed. It does not imply thatmong>andong>ates are violated, or the wishes of host countries,regional or other international actors defied.Rather it suggests that there are circumstanceswithin which the presence of a political mission inthe field – with the understong>andong>ing of national actorsong>andong> regional ong>andong> more far-flung international partners(or spoilers) that a sustained field presencebrings with it – can reap benefits distinct fromthose that might be seen from the engagement ofa visiting envoy.These benefits are by no means assured, as thewide variance in efficacy ong>andong> impact evident withinthe political missions profiled in this volume makesclear. Rather they will depend on factors that fallwith differing degrees within the competences ofthose who plan, mong>andong>ate, ong>andong> lead political missions.Skilful diplomacy will be required to reassurenational counterparts with respect to understong>andong>ablesensitivities regarding national sovereignty,but may not always be sufficient. Superior politicalong>andong> bureaucratic skills are likely to be needed tohelp design ong>andong> secure an adequate mong>andong>ate ong>andong>resources for the mission itself. Again, such skillsmay not always be equal to the challenge.As always, the impact of external actors – inthis case political missions – will to a great extentbe determined by national factors ong>andong> processes towhich their own contribution will be largely auxiliary.In the best cases, nevertheless, the advice,support ong>andong> expertise that is offered throughpolitical missions’ mediation ong>andong> good officesshould be received as a helpful contribution toprocesses in which the hard decisions need to betaken, ong>andong> implemented, by national ong>andong> regionalactors. ong>Mediationong> ong>andong> good offices will haveplayed their part in maximizing the contributionof the international community that the politicalmission aspires to.notes1 Martin Griffiths ong>andong> Teresa Whitfield, “ong>Mediationong>: Ten Years On – Challenges ong>andong> Opportunities for Peacemaking,”Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, March 2010.2 The chapter on UNMIN briefly refers to the good offices conducted by the UN from New York from 2003 on ong>andong>by a small team lead by the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in the months before the negotiationof UNMIN’s mong>andong>ate in early 2007.3 In 2001 Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the responsibilities of the new office as including “carryingout good offices role ong>andong> special assignments in countries of the subregion, on behalf of the Secretary-General,including in the areas of conflict prevention ong>andong> peace-building efforts.” Letter dated 26 November 2001 from theSecretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council. S/2001/1128, 29 November 2001.4 Teresa Whitfield, “Focused Mission: Not so Limited Duration: Identifying lessons from the United NationsMission in Nepal (UNMIN),” ong>Centerong> on International Cooperation, February 2010.5 UNAMI has a mong>andong>ated role to “advise, support ong>andong> assist” the Government of Iraq on political processes (SCR1770); in late 2007 BINUB was given a “robust political role in support… of the peace process, in full coordinationwith regional ong>andong> international partners” (SCR 1791 of 17 December 2007); UNRCCA is mong>andong>ated to “encourage”the peacemaking efforts ong>andong> initiatives of regional organizations such as the OSCE, the Commonwealth ofIndependent States ong>andong> the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (S/2007/279).6 Lizzie Sellwood, “The Role of the United Nations in Middle East Conflict Prevention,” ong>Centerong> on InternationalCooperation, July 2009.

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