Statement by Anna Evstigneeva, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at the “Arria-formula” VTC of UNSC members on mediation
We wish to thank briefers for their views on the ways to enhance the effectiveness of the Security Council in mediation efforts and for sharing their experience from the ground.
We have no doubts that mediation is one of the most vital and cost-effective tools for peaceful resolution of conflicts and for prevention of their escalation or resumption. The UN has an opportunity to play a central role in international mediation efforts, which should be undertaken in strict accordance with the UN Charter, with due respect for its fundamental principles.
It is crucial to ensure coordination in mediation efforts at the international level, in particular between the UN, regional and sub-regional organizations, bearing in mind competitive advantages of each other and sensible division of labour. Chapter VIII encourages Member-States to prioritize the settlement of local disputes with the help of regional bodies and agreements before handing them over to the Security Council. Some regional organizations, especially the African Union have accumulated great experience in the area of mediation, which the UN should rely on.
Effectiveness of mediation entirely depends on the conflict parties’ consent to the peace process and their willingness to reach mutually acceptable solutions and agreements. It is vital to allow the parties to come up with their own solutions and avoid attempts to mentor them or put excessive pressure on political processes. Arrangements that are not fully owned by the parties themselves could hardly be sustainable.
Mediators have to stay impartial and neutral towards the parties of conflict and stick to equidistant approach during the whole process. Their activities require great professional skills, knowledge of country specifics, historical, cultural and other features of conflicts. In this regard, selection and appointment of mediators in the UN system should be based on objective criteria, with geographically balanced approach in mind.
The Security Council is mandated to play a central role in peaceful settlement of disputes, including by encouraging good offices in mediation. The Council generally supports the Secretary-General’s efforts in mediation, including by backing his nominations of Special Representatives and Envoys. Needless to say that mediators should act transparently and be accountable to the Security Council.
Sometimes though, it is a «thin line» between mediation efforts, preventive diplomacy and pressure on political processes. In the Security Council, we often hear proposals, which are close to interference in internal affairs of States and their constitutional procedures. We have also witnessed attempts to support a particular party to a conflict, monopolize the mediation efforts or to pursue one’s geopolitical ends. Such actions could hardly be considered as mediation, but might rather aggravate a conflict and undermine trust in the international community.
Excessive enthusiasm for universal application of sanctions mechanisms is also a cause of concern. In many cases, additional sanctions can be counter-productive, especially when it causes parties’ resistance to mediation. For instance, the effectiveness of such measures in Africa is very low. They often lead to a greater polarization between the parties.
Russia always supports peaceful settlement of disputes through direct dialogue. The global experience of preventing and resolving conflicts has clearly shown that only impartial mediation, aimed at reconciliation and achievement of mutually acceptable agreements, has a chance for success.