Strategic Foresight Group participated in an international seminar on current practice on mediation and conflict resolution hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, in cooperation with Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Morocco and Spain. It took place at the historic Brdo Castle outside Ljubljana in March 2014.
Karl Erjavec, Deputy Prime Minister of Slovenia inaugurated the seminar. The Foreign Ministers of Morocco and Spain jointly announced a new initiative to promote the role of women in peace building efforts in the Mediterranean region.
Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations called the international community to take Article 33 of Chapter 6 of the UN Charter seriously. This article deals with the pacific resolution of disputes. He strongly advocated coordination between the United Nations and regional organisations in peace-making efforts. He also recommended the use of horizon scanning to identify conflict indicators in an early phase. He said that peace, development and human rights were part of an integrated triangle, and that it was necessary to address all three dimensions simultaneously.
There was a consensus among participants at the seminar at the risk of overcrowding of the mediation field and the need for coordination of actions by various actors. Almost all the speakers endorsed Mr Eliasson’s call for cooperation between UN, regional organisations and other actors. Several of them clarified that mediation did not mean resolution of big disputes. Constant and constructive engagement with all parties to a given conflict is equally important.
The seminar emphasised the significance of the idea of inclusion in governance structures as well as in the process of conflict resolution. Some experts said that diversity management would be an important issue in the future of mediation.
There was a debate on Responsibility to Protect from genocides and ethnic cleansing and the tension between this idea and conflict resolution. While the principle of Responsibility to Protect needs tough actions against perpetrators of violence, conflict resolution requires inclusion of all parties, including those who have committed acts of violence. It is not easy to resolve these tensions.
The seminar also pointed out that unforeseen and external circumstances can sometimes be turned into a catalyst for positive change. The Tsunami in Aceh changed the mind-set of the parties to the conflict and helped them to search common ground.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia demonstrated outstanding diplomatic skills in facilitating the seminar on a subject which seems to be getting more and more complex and complicated with the changing nature of conflict.
Strategic Foresight Group had bilateral meetings with Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, Deputy Prime Minister Karl Erjavec, former President Danilo Turk, Slovenian State Secretary Benko and other senior officials of the Foreign Ministry of Slovenia.