Resolution of Conflicts and Mediation

Turkey is geographically located at the centre of Afro-Eurasia where both opportunities and risks interact. Because of its economic, social and cultural wealth, Afro-Eurasia has an extremely positive potential, not only for the countries of the region but also for the entire world. However, this region also harbours serious security risks in terms of both conventional disputes and asymmetrical threats, which have been gradually increasing in the post-Cold War period. In this environment where both opportunities and threats emanate from a dynamism brought on by globalization, the entire international community should exert active and efficient efforts to resolve current conflicts and to prevent potential disputes so that opportunities can prevail over risks and the most positive aspects of globalization can be maintained.

As one of the most important centres of power of the region and as a nation directly affected by any development in this geography, Turkey strongly feels the need for conflict prevention and spares no effort to bring about lasting peace, stability and welfare in the region. In this vein, Turkey in recent years has pursued a more dynamic foreign policy, and endeavours to place cooperation and dialogue on solid footing in the Afro-Eurasian landscape. Attaching special importance to preventive diplomacy, Turkey has worked actively for the peaceful settlement of disputes and pioneered a great deal of mediation attempts in a wide geography.

Turkey’s approach on this issue is based not only on the fact that successful preventive diplomacy is the most effective and economic method of dispute settlement, but also on the reality that the reduction of potential disputes and conflicts in the region directly contributes to Turkey’s development. In other words, strengthening the basis of peace and stability in the region creates an environment of mutually beneficial cooperation that Turkey wants to see in her near abroad; this will help the region to develop as a whole together with Turkey. On the other hand, if potential conflicts cannot be averted timely through the detection of the core reasons of a conflict, the emerging crises can necessitate more costly and long-term measures for the region and for the whole international community. In this respect, one should keep in mind that each conflict can trigger additional tensions.

Turkey and Mediation

With this understanding, Turkey has actively worked in recent years for the resolution of many problems in her near abroad and beyond. These include our endeavours to bring about internal reconciliation in Iraq, Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan; two separate trilateral cooperation processes we have launched with the participation of Serbia and Croatia to achieve lasting peace and stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina; similarly, a trilateral cooperation mechanism we have implemented with Afghanistan and Pakistan, a country which has an important role in ensuring peace and security in Afghanistan; the constructive attitude we adopted for the peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear program issue through dialogue, our role in the talks between Somalia and Somaliland and our support to the peace process in South Philippines.

The most important experience we have gained in these processes is that each problem has its own dynamics and conditions; and that mediation efforts should be carried out with a view to safeguard such differences and in a manner, which is flexible and free from uniformity. However, it should not be forgotten that preventive diplomacy has certain golden rules and that there are some principles to be respected, no matter what the nature of the dispute is. For instance, in order to be a successful mediator, actors should demonstrate competency on all dynamics of the problem and should be able to show long-term commitment required for a lasting solution from the outset. Likewise, the mediator should propose flexible but values-based strategies from the beginning of the process and be able to present a common vision to the parties of a dispute.

Apart from this, earning the trust of parties of a dispute and demonstrating cooperation based on mutual will of all relevant actors in the process of finding solutions to a conflict are among the most important requirements of a successful mediation attempt. A mediator’s ability to communicate with all parties and to maintain an even-handed attitude - provided that the values he/she puts forward in the beginning are preserved - figure among the key elements of success. Communication with all parties to a dispute becomes even more important in situations where a perception of contradiction exists between peace and justice. In this regard, the main duties of a mediator are to strike a balance between these two indispensable values and to introduce a framework for resolution that will not require parties to sacrifice one value at the expense of the other.

It is also of crucial importance for a mediator to comply with the confidentiality of the process of delicate negotiations as well as to avoid actions or statements about the process that may compromise the parties. By all means, this requires the implementation of a mediation process with a certain degree of confidentiality. Such discretion becomes more essential in environments where more than one mediator exists, and it demonstrates the elements of coordination and leadership.

While mediation by a single actor or team is a more preferable method under normal conditions, such a tight-knit approach may not always be possible. Moreover, it can be possible for many different actors, including non-governmental organizations, to make beneficial contributions to a mediation process depending on the nature of the problem. However, in cases where more than one mediator exists, it is of key importance to ensure healthy coordination among the actors and to prevent the possible abuse of such a circumstance by the conflicting parties.

Turkey continues her mediation activities within the framework of these general principles. Depending on the value added by mediation activities, Turkey acts in mutual trust with all parties to a dispute and on the basis of certain values. In this vein, provided that the confidentiality of the process is ensured, Turkey maintains her activities with transparency and pays strict attention to coordination and cooperation with all related actors.

Our Activities at the UN

The “Mediation for Peace” initiative launched by Turkey with Finland on September 24, 2010 in New York under the auspices of the UN takes as a basis the principles of coordination and complementarity for the success of a mediation process.

This initiative, which was launched with a view to enhance the prominence of mediation in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution and affect additional resources for mediation efforts, also aims at enhancing the preventive diplomacy/mediation capacities of the UN, regional organizations and individual countries.

In this respect, the resolution adopted by consensus on June 22, 2011 in the UN General Assembly (A/65/283) in line with these principles and objectives of the initiative is of special importance, since it is the first resolution regarding mediation adopted in the UN.

The Group initiated another resolution on the role and importance of regional and sub-regional organisations in mediation in July 2014 (A/68/303). A total of 86 countries co-sponsored the resolution that was unanimously adopted by the General Assembly. In September 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on “Strengthening the Role of Mediation in the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes, Conflict Prevention and Resolution” (A/70/304), co-sponsored by 69 countries.

At this point, the “Mediation for Peace” initiative has gathered significant interest and the number of the members in the “Friends of Mediation Group” has reached to 59 (51 countries and 8 major regional and international organizations including the UN). The growing support to the work of the group is a clear testimony of the raising awareness for the importance of mediation. We have been able to maintain momentum with the UN’s “Guidance for Effective Mediation” prepared by the Secretary-General in June 2012 (A/66/811) and the follow-up resolution adopted by the General Assembly in September 2012 (A/66/291). Turkey took the lead in translating the “Guidance for Effective Mediation” into Turkish, which made it the first non-UN official language into which the document was translated, and disseminating it widely across the academic and civil society circles.

“Guidance for Effective Mediation” is available here (EK1-TR)

The Group of Friends of Mediation also meets at the level of Foreign Ministers once a year. The Ministerial Meetings are hosted by Turkey and Finland by rotation on the margins of the Annual Sessions of UN General Assembly.

The last Ministerial Meeting of the Group was convened in New York on September 26, 2019 during the 74th session of the UN General Assembly with the theme of “New Technologies for Peace and Mediation as Tools for Inclusion: Celebrating the 10th Ministerial Meeting and Looking Ahead”.

Our Activities at the OSCE

Following the success of the initiative at the UN, Turkey along with Finland and the Swiss Presidency of the OSCE at that time formed a “Friends of Mediation Group” in that organization on March 6, 2014 in Vienna. In addition to serving as a platform for sharing experiences, the main objective of this Group is to raise awareness among the OSCE members on the importance of mediation as an effective tool for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The Group of Friends of Mediation at the OSCE had a meeting hosted by Turkey in Vienna on January 14, 2019 where the Group focused on the importance of synergy among international and regional organizations in the field of mediation. Hosted by Switzerland, the last meeting of the said Group was convened in July 2019 in Vienna and focused on the role of mediation in achieving ceasefires.

Our Activities at the OIC

The majority of conflicts worldwide take place within the OIC geography. Since her Term Presidency and Executive Committee Chairmanship at the OIC, Turkey has been contributing to building the mediation capacity at the OIC. Within this context, Turkey has submitted the Resolution 53/45-POL on “Strengthening the Mediation Capacity of the OIC” and the 45th Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC adopted the resolution (Dhakka, May 5-6, 2018). The said resolution was later updated by the 46th Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC (Abu Dhabi, March 1-2, 2019) (56/46-POL).

Based on these resolutions, the OIC has established a Contact Group of Friends of Mediation to contribute to the efforts in capacity building for mediation at the OIC. In a short period of time, the Group has become the second largest Contact Group within the organization. The Group, co-chaired by Turkey, the OIC General Secretariat, Saudi Arabia and Gambia, also met at the Ministerial level in New York on September 24, 2018 during the 73 rd session of the UN General Assembly.

The OIC Contact Group of Friends of Mediation re-convened on June 27, 2019 in Jeddah at the headquarters of the OIC General Secretariat to discuss the preparation of an OIC document on culturally and locally sensitive mediation and the creation of a roster of specialists, mediators and special representatives of the OIC.

The OIC’s Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Center for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) hosted a “brainstorming” session in Ankara on September 13, 2019 on culturally sensitive mediation approaches with a view to prepare a Code of Conduct on the matter.

Istanbul Mediation Conferences

Recognizing the need for harnessing the growing interest on the peace-making agenda in general and mediation in particular at home and in line with her pioneering role in that field, Turkey also hosts “Istanbul Conferences on Mediation” with wide international participation, under the auspices of our Minister.

The first Conference was organized on February, 24-25 2012 with the theme of “Enhancing Peace through Mediation” and focused on conceptual and theoretical issues. In the second Conference held on April, 11-12 2013 with the theme of “Keys to Effective Mediation: Perspectives from Within”, specific conflict cases were discussed. The theme of the third Conference on June 26-27, 2014 was “The Increasing Role of Regional Organizations in Mediation” to echo and complement the ongoing discussions at that time leading to the adoption of the third UN General Assembly resolution on mediation. The fourth İstanbul Conference on Mediation was held on June 30, 2017 with the theme “Surge in Diplomacy, Action in Mediation”. The article by H.E. Minister Çavuşoğlu published on the occasion of the Conference is available here.

Turkey hosted the Fifth Istanbul Mediation Conference on November 30, 2018 with the theme of “Enhancing the Practice of Mediation for Sustaining Peace”. The Conference examined the relationship between sustainable development and mediation, the involvement of women and youth in mediation processes and the impact of digital transformation including big data and artificial intelligence.

The Sixth Istanbul Mediation Conference will take place on October 31, 2019 with the theme of “International Peace Mediation: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead”. The Conference will be inaugurated by His Excellency Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and the Secretary General of the United Nations (UNSG) Antonio Guterres while also featuring the UNSG’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation (HLAB). The conference will analyze the role of regional and international organizations in peace and mediation, discuss the current state of play in mediation and peace efforts with the participation of the HLAB members, and evaluate the impact of emerging technologies on peace efforts.

“Istanbul Conferences on Mediation” bring together experts and practitioners and embody a significant platform for the exchange of knowledge and practice in mediation.

(Summary Report of the 1st İstanbul Conference on Mediation is available here.) (EK2-EN)

(Summary Report of the 2nd İstanbul Conference on Mediation is available here.) (EK3-EN)

(Programme of the 3rd İstanbul Conference on Mediation is available here.) (EK4-EN)

(Summary Report of the 4th İstanbul Conference on Mediation is available here.) (EK5-EN) 

(Summary Report of the 5th İstanbul Conference on Mediation is available here.) (EK6-EN) 

OIC Member States Mediation Conferences

Turkey initiated another conference series focusing on the OIC in 2017. The 1st OIC Member States Conference on Mediation (Istanbul, November 21, 2017) was organized in collaboration with the OIC General Secretariat under the theme of “Surge in Mediation: The Role of the OIC”.

(Summary Report of the 1st OIC Member States Conference on Mediation is available here.) (EK7-EN) 

The theme of the 2nd OIC Member States Conference on Mediation (Istanbul, November 29, 2018) was “The Implementation of Resolution No: 53/45-POL: Challenges and Opportunities”. The conference was attended by Ambassadors/Permanent Representatives to the OIC, experts and civil society representatives.

(Summary Report of the 2nd OIC Member States Conference on Mediation is available here.) (EK8-EN) 

Mediation for Peace Certificate Program

In line with the relevant OIC Resolutions (53/45-POL and 56/46-POL), Turkey launched the Mediation for Peace Certificate Program intended for junior diplomats from the OIC Secretariat and OIC Member States in 2018.

The second edition of the Program was organized in Ankara on September 9-13, 2019 and brought together 21 young diplomats from OIC Member States and the OIC Secretariat with the representatives from international organizations as well as scholars working in the field of mediation.

Turkey is committed to continuing her active efforts to enhance the effective use of mediation at the UN and other international fora.