The Oslo forum 2010 brought together 90 mediators and peace process actors to consider current challenges in mediation. Participants closely examined current conflicts in Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq, as well as cross-cutting issues such as transnational militants, fragmented conflict parties, and gender-sensitive peace processes. Participants were also invited to challenge their assumptions on a variety of mediation topics in a series of short and provocative debates.
The forum was particularly notable for the presence of different types of mediators – both state and non-state – leading to interesting discussions on the opportunities and challenges these different mediators bring to resolving conflicts. There was much optimism about the potential for synergies between new and traditional mediators, though there was also concern about a lack of coordination between actors.
A recurring theme throughout discussions was a questioning of the focus on securing peace agreements over a focus on the quality of the process. Many stressed the importance of patience in peace processes, and in particular the necessity of dealing with difficult parties and issues, even if this delayed clinching an agreement. Participants examined the implications of this in Afghanistan, Kenya, Colombia, Northern Ireland, Liberia, and the Philippines. In contrast, there was concern expressed about the slow pace of negotiations in Sudan and Iraq, and the risk that not reaching agreements would lead to renewed violence.