New York, NY (BBN)– Mediation is a valuable and effective tool for conflict prevention and the peaceful settlement of disputes, top United Nations officials have stressed. 
 “We live in uncertain times. Unprecedented shifts are taking place across the world. As nations are transforming into new democracies, the moment is now for mediation,” the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said at the opening of a high-level meeting on the role of Member States in mediation on Wednesday.
“Mediation can prevent conflict and stave off bloodshed. Mediation can support peaceful transitions and nurture reconciliation,” he added. “Mediation is inclusive and can help build representative, democratic societies that realise the legitimate aspirations of their peoples.”
The day-long meeting in the General Assembly brings together ministers, eminent mediators and experts to discuss their experiences and how mediation processes can be more effectively conducted and managed, UN statement said.
Mr. Al-Nasser noted that in recent years, more and more Member States have become actively engaged in mediation efforts and are using mediation as a tool to build bridges, settle disputes and resolve conflicts.
Outlining what he believed are essential elements for successful mediation endeavours, the president stressed the need for strong leadership and coordinated action. In particular, he said that for the sake of coordination and efficiency, there should be one lead mediator or one lead mediation team for each specific case. This lead should be supported by others, where necessary.
The second essential element for a successful mediation process is a fine balance between principles and vision.
In this respect, female leaders and women’s organizations play a vital role in garnering the support of their communities for peace processes, said Mr. Al-Nasser. To ensure greater inclusiveness, traditional or indigenous mediation mechanisms should be incorporated and combined with official mediation efforts, he added.
In his remarks to the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlined what he believed are the “key fundamentals” for every mediation effort, including consent, impartiality, preparedness and inclusivity, adding that all mediation efforts must respect international laws and norms.
“We have come a long way in recognizing the value of mediation,” stated the Secretary-General. “The UN’s mediation capacity is stronger than ever. We are boosting our partnerships with other major actors and strengthening our ability to respond to emerging needs. I encourage Member States to make greater use of these newly enhanced services.”
Mediators must help ensure that perpetrators of serious international crimes are not granted amnesties in peace agreements, and should forge peace agreements that lay the foundation for reconciliation, he said. It is also important to include more women in peace processes.
BBN/SSR/AD-24May12-11:40 am (BST)