Dialogue and mediation

 Community Members in Kapsokwony, Mt. Elgon area, take part in a peace mediation meeting. Photo: UNDP Kenya

The nature of conflict, and its prevention, has changed dramatically over the last decades. Transitions such as those taking place across the Middle East and North Africa, differences over the conduct of political and electoral processes, recurring or seasonal conflicts such as those over land and natural resources, cannot be addressed through ad hoc external mediation or dialogue support alone. They require standing and sustainable mechanisms as well as established mediation and dialogue capacities at local and national levels. Resilient societies are characterized by capacities for dialogue, mediation, and inclusive decision-making that prevent the escalation of violent conflict and enhance peacebuilding processes.  

UNDP supports government and key actors in their efforts to prevent violence, manage conflicts constructively, and develop effective responses during political transitions and periods of rapid change. UNDP’s efforts focus on empowering national and local mediators and facilitators, also known as insider mediators, to serve as credible intermediaries and confidence-builders to improve relationships, reduce mistrust in institutions, and facilitate collaboration and coordination among polarized groups and sectors.

Formal and informal spaces for dialogue are also established and convened with UNDP support. These fora aim to establish inclusive and participatory mechanisms to address conflict around contested issues and build consensus around constitutional or governance reforms. These capacities are integral parts of a nation’s Infrastructures for Peace, the network of structures, resources, values, and skills which contribute to a nation’s internal ability to prevent conflicts and build peace.

Over the past ten years, UNDP has provided such support in nearly fifty countries.

In the aftermath of the 2011 political transition in Tunisia, UNDP was invited to assist with the national consultative process. Through support for insider mediators, key Tunisian stakeholders were assisted in the design of a locally-specific-and-led model for a social dialogue to underpin the transition process.

Women have increasingly played key roles as insider mediators. Women led the formation and implementation of an early-warning-and-response centre during national elections in Senegal in 2012, when the country faced its first-ever prospects of election-related violence.  The Roundtable on Peace and Development in Fiji, conducted between 2010 and 2013, also saw prominent roles played by women leaders in building agreement between civic leaders and their antagonists in the military-backed interim Government.

Several countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Timor-Leste, and Zimbabwe have established specialized institutions at the national or local levels to manage conflicts, facilitate dialogue, and lead reconciliation and recovery efforts.  Working with other UN Agencies, UNDP also continues to support national capacities to preventing and managing outbreaks of violence during elections.

UNDP has developed strong partnerships with the UN Department of Political Affairs and the European Union in developing local and national capacities for conflict prevention and management, including through the fostering of insider mediation capacities.

UNDP is an active member of the EU-UN partnership on Land, Natural Resources and Conflict Prevention which provides a unique platform to engage with private sector, local communities and government for resolving complex conflicts in a multidisciplinary and holistic way, combining economic, social, political and environmental technical expertise.

UNDP Around the world