Translating Mediation Guidance into Practice: Commentary on the UN Guidance for Effective Mediation by the Mediation Support Network




Alvarez, Miguel
Avasiloae, Sabina
Cristescu, Roxana
Dziatkowiec, Paul
Hellmueller, Sara
Kirchhoff, Lars
Kraus, Anne Isabel
Mason, Simon
Mutisi, Martha
Stock, Nathan

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Mediation Support Network


This is a short monograph that summarizes a series of meetings of the Mediation Support Network (MSN), a network of primarily non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that support mediation in peace negotiations. Specifically, MSN members discussed and reflected on the “UN Guidance for Effective Mediation” and specifically focused on how to translate the UN Guidance into practice. Rather than being a comprehensive commentary, this document therefore focuses on certain issues and cases that seem pertinent from the MSN perspective. The discussions focused on numerous case studies that illustrate the challenges of mediation, and how they were dealt with. The aim of these case studies – some of them specifically focusing on the NGO role in mediation – is to help translate the UN Guidance into effective practice. A few key themes about mediation were featured: preparedness; consent; impartiality; inclusivity; national ownership; international law and a normative framework; coherence, coordination, and complementarity; and quality peace agreements. Conclusions included the need for mediation to be professionalized and that careful analysis is needed before any mediation action. Such analysis and strategizing requires the long-term development of institutional and human capacity. There is a strong and legitimate call for making mediation processes more inclusive, with regard to the inclusion of a range of actors (e.g., marginalized groups, women, religious actors, etc.) and with regard to the content of a peace agreement. However, mediators often face pressure to reach a minimum agreement quickly, especially when hostilities are ongoing. This can make it particularly difficult to reach more inclusive, and thus more complex, agreements. Inclusivity also entails efforts, outside the formal mediation process, to support dialogue between actors, so that they can better influence formal processes and sustain peace agreements once they are signed. Coordination of mediators benefits from the inclusion of civil society: Local mediators are often forgotten, even if they have many comparative advantages and play a key role before, during and after formal peace processes.



Mediation, Inclusive Peace Process, Peace Agreement