EIP hosted the official Brussels launch of a new report by swisspeace and NOREF. Listen to some of the key points of the debate.

Expectations on mediation processes are growing. Mediators are supposed to bring violent conflicts to an end, but they are also increasingly asked to integrate gender equality, human rights, justice and other norms into their overall strategy, and ensure that these appear in final peace agreements. How do mediators and mediation processes deal with these - often conflicting - demands? This is the starting point of a new swisspeace/NOREF report on the role of norms in international mediation. Based on in-depth interviews with 22 mediators and mediation experts the report looks at the link between normative frameworks and mediation processes, how norms have changed over time - and how mediators are dealing with different norms during mediation processes. Julia P. Federer, one of the co-authors of the report, explains the idea behind the report and outlines some of the conclusions:

One quote by an experienced mediator (taken from the report) sheds light on the difficult choices mediators need to take during peace negotiations:

“It was very openly accepted that human rights had to be disregarded in this peace agreement so that the war can end. Personally, I think that was completely correct. I had not lost sleep over that at all. I would have if it was the other way"around.”

Another mediator, also quoted in the report, explained an implicit hierarchy of norms that occurs in peace processes:

“I think every single mediation process, for the expediency of time to end violence, sacrifices some of those norms along the way. I think that is not ideal, but I think someone who has started out as an idealist realizes that pragmatically that is going to happen along the way.”

At the official Brussels launch of the report, EIP's director Martin Griffith summarised the challenges facing mediators and explained why improving accountability in peace mediation is one of the main challenges:

One question that was raised during the debate focused on whether mediators should actually promote certain norms. The report suggests that mediators perceive 'norm advocates' as not helpful as they push mediators to include various provisions in peace agreements. A quote in the report underlines this point:

“It is not my kind of job to establish norms, it is not my kind of job to decide what electoral system they are going to use, it is not my kind of job to decide what presidential system they are going to have.”

John Packer, the Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at Ottawa University was one of the special guests at the Brussels launch event. In this short audio clip he shares his views on how norms influence peace mediation processes:

Another special guest was Sonya Reines- Djivanides, the newly appointed director of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) in Brussels. She argued that mediation processes should only be seen as one piece of a wider process:

Download the report: