As part of the call he made for a surge in diplomacy for peace when assuming office, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the changing nature of conflict and the need for mediation practice to adapt. The complexity of contemporary conflict requires UN peacemakers to recognise and evaluate the links between local, subnational and national conflicts and political processes. This is particularly true in highly fragmented conflict settings, where an abundance of agendas, actors and initiatives often shape dynamics of conflict and prospects for peace.
Understanding conflict at the local and subnational levels is of critical importance for the development of effective mediation and peacemaking practice. As the UN system-wide service provider of mediation support, MSU seeks to enhance the UN’s abilities to enable the resolution of local and subnational conflicts in a way that promotes implementation of the UN’s overall political mandate and strategy in a given conflict theatre.
In an effort to provide practical guidance and help inform UN engagement with local processes, MSU is identifying lessons learnt and best practices from across different conflict settings - for instance around the inclusion and role of women peacebuilders in local processes, or effective ways to create strategic linkages across national and local tracks of engagement. This work has led to a number of knowledge products, including a series of case studies and chapeau publications on UN support to local mediation initiatives.
MSU’s latest publication addresses the question of whether and how the UN should become directly involved in local conflicts and mediation processes. The Practice Note Engaging at the Local Level: Options for UN Mediators identifies key strategic considerations to guide such decisions as well as a spectrum of options for engagement.
MSU offers tailor-made technical advice and comparative expertise on how to assess and integrate local mediation processes with high-level political peacemaking efforts. Hands-on assistance is mobilized through MSU standing staff capacity as well as the Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers.
Services include advice on strategic analysis of local initiatives, as well as process design support on how to integrate local efforts with national-level mediation processes. MSU is also available to support the development of case studies on selected local mediation processes to help further the generation of lessons learned and best practices at global policy level.