Remarks at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Mediation (via VTC)

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 9, 2020


Gunter, thank you so much. And really, thanks to you, and all of the organizers and co-sponsors, for calling today’s meeting. I think today’s discussion highlights very much the vital and often underappreciated tool that mediation is and the transformative impact it can have to prevent or resolve conflict.

The Security Council, as everyone knows, gathers often to debate how to resolve crises, but too often we focus on mitigation and remediation, where we could spend more time on prevention. And this is why we very much welcome this Arria today.

Mediation is most successful when the right set of stakeholders is engaged – and I think that this has been highlighted throughout the conversation already today – and that the mediator is trusted. Increasing evidence also demonstrates that women’s meaningful participation is critical to successful and sustainable negotiations, reconciliation, and the transition processes.

Yet, as we’ve seen, women are rarely engaged as negotiators, and even more rarely as mediators. From 1992 to 2018, women made up only three percent of mediators, four percent of signatories, and 13 percent of negotiators. Despite the fact that participation of civil society groups, including women’s organizations, make a peace agreement 64% less likely to fail. For us, the United States, and for all of us, we have to do better.

We must include women in the peace and mediation processes, both as official participants in the negotiating room and as mediators themselves. And given the fact that October is when we are celebrating and trying to move forward the agenda for Women, Peace, and Security, this is ever relevant.

To this end, last year the United States launched a bold new strategy on women, peace, and security, reaffirming U.S. commitment to this agenda. And the strategy outlines an innovative framework for increasing women’s participation in mediating disputes, preventing and resolving conflict, and in countering terrorism and violent extremism, to promote stable and lasting peace.

We have also followed through on this in concrete ways. In Yemen, we funded security sector experts to advise on ceasefire design, transitional security, and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, and have supported women’s inclusion to advance the overall mediation efforts. And in Syria, we support the inclusion of women and civil society in the UN process, including the creation of the Women’s Advisory Board, where Syrian civil society representatives, and women in particular, are doing tremendous work to promote peace in the midst of horrific violence.

Additionally, as we believe, the Security Council should reflect further about when the UN is best placed to serve as a mediator, and when it should play a supporting role. As the report noted, the lack of Security Council consensus imperiled recent mediation efforts for South Sudan. However, I would also say that we respectfully disagree with the report’s recommendation that we should weaken mandates to avoid abstentions. The Council must provide mediators with a recipe for success, not a formula for failure, and not negotiating to the lowest common denominator.

The Security Council is well positioned to address missed opportunities for mediation, whether through direct recommendations or by supporting local actors, especially women. And we welcome a discussion of an expanded Council role to support mediation and conflict resolution. And we should also seek to strengthen the capacity of regional and sub-regional partner organizations, given their comparative advantage in securing local buy-in. And I think its terrific that you were able to include some of them today, Gunter, so thank you very much for this.