26 July 2013, Holmenkollen, Norway - This year marked the twentieth anniversary of the UNITAR-IPI Fellowship Programme in Peacemaking and Preventive Diplomacy, established by Dr. Connie Peck in 1993, following her tenure as a Special Consultant to the Australian Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans. The purpose of the consultancy was to make proposals for strengthening peacemaking and preventive diplomacy within the United Nations. When Peck discovered that no training in these subjects existed in the system for UN staff and diplomats, she approached UNITAR and IPI with a proposal to develop such a programme and subsequently launched a campaign to obtain the necessary funding.
Twenty years later, the Fellowship Programme has gained a well-earned reputation for excellence. Seven hundred and thirty senior and middle-level participants have attended this unique programme.
UN Staff from the Office of the Secretary-General, the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Office of Legal Affairs, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the High Commissioner for Refugees have deepened their knowledge and strengthened their skills through participation. A large number of diplomats (working on UN issues) from Member States around the world have also participated, as well as personnel from regional organizations, including the African Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Association of South-East Asian Nations, and the Pacific Islands Forum.
The 40 participants attending the 2013 Fellowship Programme were provided with the latest knowledge and theory in conflict analysis, negotiation and mediation and an opportunity to practice and refine these skills through exercises and simulations. Ten highly-experienced, world-renowned scholars and practitioners acted as resource persons.
The interest-based, problem-solving approach to negotiation and mediation, which is the focus of the curriculum, represents the most up-to-date thinking in the field of conflict prevention and resolution and encourages the exploration of all parties’ interests, so that innovative options can be developed to address parties’ concerns and aspirations. In contrast to the more commonly used power-based and rights-based approaches, interest-based negotiation and mediation tend to be less costly, enabling more lasting, integrative, win-win solutions to be found. As well, resource persons discuss the many challenges that occur and lessons they have learned when carrying out dispute resolution in complex, real-world conflict situations.
The Fellowship Programme is held annually at the Soria Moria Conference Centre in Holmenkollen, Norway and the 2013 programme took place from 25 June to 4 July. UNITAR is very grateful to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Finland and Sweden for their crucially important financial support for this programme.
Image 1: Dr. Peck introduces Prof. John Packer, member of the UN Standby Team of Mediation Experts
Image 2: Prof. Eleanor Wertheim observes participants negotiating