Retreats

A SERIES OF MEDIATION RETREATS

The Oslo Forum series aims to facilitate a frank and open exchange of insights by those working at the highest level to bring warring parties together to find negotiated solutions. Oslo Forum retreats are carved around a topical and challenging agenda, which relates concretely to the concerns mediators of armed conflict face on a daily basis. As practitioners are reluctant to publicly discuss and reflect their experiences given the politically sensitive nature of their work, all Oslo Forum retreats are subject to Chatham House Rule and take place in a uniquely informal ambiance.

 

Annual global retreat

The annual global gathering of conflict mediation practitioners in Oslo is the centre piece of the Oslo Forum series. Each year in June, this global retreat convenes senior conflict mediators, high-level decision makers and other major actors in peace processes. The annual global retreat offers an opportunity to draw on comparative and innovative approaches across regions and institutions for a comprehensive overview of mediation experiences, challenges and opportunities.

Regional retreats

Participants at the Oslo Forum 2004 suggested an interest in looking at conflict mediation from a regional perspective. From this was born the concept of regional mediators' retreats that would enable mediators and other senior peace process actors to assess the prospects and pitfalls for conflict resolution in the context of their particular region. Like the global retreats, the regional retreats are organised by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) with the support of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but draw on strong regional partners; such as the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore, the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation in Tanzania and the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) in China.

 

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Oslo Forum 2016
June 14-15 2016, Oslo

Around 100 of the world’s prominent armed conflict mediators and peace process actors gathered in Oslo, Norway from 14 to 15 June 2016, to share their experiences of peacemaking as part of the fourteenth annual Oslo Forum. The overarching theme of the 2016 Oslo Forum was ‘Adapting to a new conflict landscape’, reflecting the emergent set of challenges mediators face in responding to the changing face of conflict – including various combinations of sectarian tensions, radical extremism, regional rivalries, geopolitical upheaval, and state collapse. The Forum featured panel discussions, debates and roundtable sessions on a variety of topics including challenges around implementing the Libyan Peace Agreement, the Syria conflict, recent developments in Afghanistan, Burundi and Yemen, and the peace processes in Colombia and Cyprus.

Background Material

 
Disclaimer
The following interviews and background papers have been prepared specifically for this retreat and reflect events until mid-May 2016.They are intended to provide general background to guide and inform discussions at the Oslo Forum, and do not represent the positions of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
 
Interviews - Mediation through a media lens
Background Paper - War is back – The International Response to Armed Conflict

Meeting Report
Oslo Forum 2015
June 16-17 2015, Oslo

Around 100 of the world’s most prominent armed conflict mediators and peace process actors gathered in Oslo, Norway from 16 to 17 June 2015, to share their experiences of peacemaking as part of the thirteenth annual Oslo Forum. The overarching theme of the 2015 Forum was ‘Peacemaking in the new world disorder’, reflecting the momentous events that have shaken up the international system over the last year including deepening geopolitical fissures, the fragmentation of states following the ‘Arab Spring’, the seizure of territory by non-state armed groups, and challenges to state sovereignty in Europe. The Forum also featured panel discussions, debates and roundtable sessions on a variety of topics including the Islamic State phenomenon, the peace process in Colombia, insecurity and instability in Northern Africa and the Middle East, tackling Nigeria’s multifaceted security challenges and prospects for rapprochement between Iran and the West.

Background Material

 
Disclaimer
The following interviews and background papers have been prepared specifically for this retreat and reflect events until mid-May 2015.They are intended to provide general background to guide and inform discussions at the Oslo Forum, and do not represent the positions of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
 
Interviews - Conflict and peacemaking trends
 
Background Paper - Russia: peacemaker with a difference
 
Background Paper - Norm-pushers or deal-brokers? Normative challenges of modern-day mediators
 
Background Paper - Forget me, forget me not: learning the lessons of forgotten conflicts
 
Background Paper - Myanmar's ground-breaking peace process

Oslo Forum 2014
June 18-19 2014, Oslo

One hundred of the world's eminent mediators and peace process actors - nearly half of them women - attended the 2014 Oslo Forum, sharing practical experiences and engaging in lively debates on current peacemaking practice and mediation trends. The theme of the 2014 Oslo Forum was ‘engaging with radical groups’. In line with this, participants discussed the feasibility of dialogue with extremist groups, such as ISIS and Boko Haram. Another common thread running through the discussions at the Forum was the geopolitical flux gripping the international system. Participants also considered specific case studies, including the historic peace agreement achieved in the Philippines this year; the international failure to stop the conflict in Syria; and other peacemaking efforts in South Sudan, Colombia, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic. Additionally, attendees examined the phenomenon of popular uprisings against democratically elected governments, and the use of force as a tool of peacemaking. The Forum also offered a valuable opportunity to exchange comparative lessons and experiences on national dialogues, and to reflect on specific mediation challenges such as the fragmentation of conflict parties.

Background Material
 
Disclaimer
The following background papers have been prepared specifically for this retreat and reflect events until the end of May 2014. They are intended to provide insights from peacemakers, researchers and legal experts, and they do not represent the positions of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
 

Background Paper - UN crisis diplomacy and peacekeeping: an emergency health check

Background Paper - The rocky path from elections to a new constitution in Tunisia: Mechanisms for consensus-building and inclusive decision-making

Background Paper - Identity, rentierism, secession and conflict: Analysis and implications of the civil war in South Sudan

Background Paper - Managing military intervention in democratic transitions

 

Africa Mediators' Retreat 2013
19-21 November 2013, Zanzibar, Tanzania

The fourth Africa Mediators’ Retreat took place in Zanzibar, Tanzania in November 2013. More than 40 senior conflict mediators and peace process actors attended, together with key decision-makers, eminent thinkers and government representatives with significant experience in peacemaking across the African continent. The event was co-hosted by the HD Centre, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation. Three days of lively discussions covered a broad range of complex issues and peacemaking challenges across the continent including the role of the International Criminal Court in Africa; the role of religion in African politics: the mediator’s potential bridging role between religious and secular political stakeholders; assessing the potential for dialogue with extremist groups; the interplay between elections and conflicts in Africa; the role of the mediator in developing models for governance; and the utility of force during peacemaking.

Background Material
 
Disclaimer
The following background papers have been prepared specifically for this retreat and reflect events until the end of October 2013. They are intended to provide insights from peacemakers, researchers and legal experts, and they do not represent the positions of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation or the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
 

Background Paper - Using Force to Promote Peace

Background Paper - Lessons from African Peacemaking

Background Paper - The ICC: a straw man in the peace-versus-justice debate?

Oslo Forum 2013
18-19 June 2013, Oslo

Over 140 of the world's eminent senior mediators and peace process actors attended the 2013 Oslo Forum, sharing practical experiences and engaging in lively debates on current peacemaking practice and mediation trends. In line with this year’s overarching theme, ‘Through a Different Lens: innovative approaches to mediating conflict’, participants explored areas that had previously garnered little attention among a mediation community that usually focuses on traditional forms of armed conflict and peacemaking methods. Sessions on negotiating with criminal gangs and the unique role of faith-based actors in peacemaking allowed mediators to think ‘outside the box’ and draw unique lessons for their work from atypical contexts. Also in line with the same theme, participants explored creative approaches to conflicts in Syria, the Sahel, Somalia, and other complex environments. As such, the Oslo Forum once more served as a ‘laboratory’ for new and innovative approaches to peacemaking. 

Background Material
 
Disclaimer
The following background papers have been prepared specifically for this retreat and reflect events until the end of May 2013. They are intended to provide insights from peacemakers, researchers and legal experts, and they do not represent the positions of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
 

Background Paper - Jammu and Kashmir: State of the Peace Process

Background Paper - Local Conflict and State Fragility: Supporting Local Mediation in the Philippines, Kenya and Libya

Background Paper - Getting to the Point of Inclusion: Seven Myths Standing in the Way of Women Waging Peace

Pages

Updates

Understanding fragmentation in conflict and its impact on prospects for peace
Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham highlights a number of key findings about fragmentation and conflict, and the role of mediation in fragmented conflicts. Drawing on a range of contemporary and historical examples from global conflicts, the author examines the consequences of fragmentation for...

2017
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