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 2009
16-18 June 2009, Oslo

Some 90 participants gathered at the Oslo forum 2009 to discuss openly how mediation and diplomacy can adapt and respond to the current changing environment. The meeting considered how to reassert diplomacy as the premier instrument for the resolution of armed conflict, and how to improve its effectiveness. Those attending were senior mediators of armed conflict, representatives of governments and international organisations, and outstanding analysts and decision makers.

The motivations, key challenges and prospects for efforts to promote discreet dialogue between the US and Iran were debated, as were the implications of North Korea’s recent demonstrations of its nuclear capability on the progress of the Six Party Talks. Participants also exchanged experiences on a number of specific conflict situations, including Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Philippines, and the forum included an assessment of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and of the lessons from (not) dealing with Hamas and Hezbollah. Other sessions included a discussion of the challenges of preparing conflict parties for negotiations, and a review of the roles and impact of regional mediators. There was also a practical exchange on how mediators can work in military environments, and a discussion of the impact of international justice on peace processes.

Meeting Report

The Oslo forum 09 meeting report includes an executive summary of the retreat and a short report reflecting the discussions held in each of the sessions.

Oslo forum 09 - Meeting report

Africa Mediators' Retreat 2009
24-27 March 2009, Zanzibar, Tanzania

The African Mediators’ Retreat aims to provide a forum where those involved in conflict resolution across Africa can discuss openly the challenges they face, seek ideas for addressing them and build professional ties to foster cooperation

The Retreat convened more than 60 participants, including representatives from the United Nations, African regional organisations, and governments, as well as independent analysts.

Participants shared their experiences in a number of focus discussions on the peace processes in Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, as well as in a session exploring the extent to which mediators should include economic issues in the talks, especially concerning natural resources. Other discussion topics included: the challenges for mediators in dealing with rebel groups, with a special focus on Chad/Darfur and Uganda; the impact of international justice on peace processes with a particular focus on the indictment of the Sudanese president; how to deal effectively with external actors in peace processes; the role of mediation in the post-agreement phase; and an assessment of the role of mediation in preventing and managing conflict in the wake of transferring power through elections.

Background Material

The challenges facing mediation in Africa
By Laurie Nathan, March 2009

Oslo forum | Africa 09 Participants were provided with some session briefs intended to provide some background information for the discussions, and to help them choose between parallel sessions.

Mediators and economics: Should they care?
By Céline Yvon, March 2009

Challenges for mediators dealing with rebel groups: Chad/Darfur and Uganda
By Theo Murphy, March 2009

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
By Tatiana Carayannis, March 2009

Mediation in the post-agreement phase

Mediating election-related conflicts
By Meredith Preston McGhie and Chris Fomunyoh, March 2009

Indicting for peace: Sudan
By Suliman Baldo, March 2009

Managing external actors in peace processes
By Stephen Smith, March 2009


In addition, the following background papers build on discussions at the African Mediation Retreat 2009.

Why should mediators consider the economic dimensions of conflicts?
By Mike Davis, July 2009
Mediating election-related conflicts
By Chris Fomunyoh, July 2009
The challenge of building sustainable peace in the DRC
By Tatiana Carayannis, July 2009

Meeting Report

The African Mediators' Retreat meeting report includes an executive summary of the retreat and a short report reflecting the discussions held in each of the sessions.

Oslo forum | Africa 09 Meeting report

Oslo Forum 2008
24-27 June 2008, Oslo

Oslo forum 2008 aimed to examine the prospects for mediation in a challenging environment.

Some 90 participants debated who can be talked to and about what and whether imminent changes in world politics (especially US politics) herald significant changes; what support mediators need and what support is available. Specific discussions included experiences of local mediation and the significance of gender sensitivity as a mediation tool. Also, the challenges to dialogue in Iraq, and Dafur/ Chad featured prominently, along with a spotlight on former combatants’ views on demobilisation and disarmament. Situation reports from Somalia, Nepal, Cyprus, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Abkhazia were delivered by experienced mediators during informal breakfast sessions.

Asia Mediators' Retreat 2008
15-17 March 2008, Beijing

The Asian Mediation Retreat was co-hosted by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, in cooperation with the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS). The retreat emphasised that dialogue and mediation are not Western concepts, but that Asia is very much part of the debate and practice. More than fifty mediators, experts and peace process actors from around Asia participated in the Asian Mediation Retreat, including senior officials and envoys from India, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Discussions looked at mediation trends in Asia, the role of big powers in negotiating an end to disputes, energy security and engaging with extremists. Participants also discussed the peace processes in Indonesia and Nepal and debated mediation and security in fragile states. A special highlight was an off the record interview of former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas.

Oslo Forum 2007
26-29 June 2007, Oslo

Dialogue in a divided world: power, potential and pitfalls

The fifth annual event of its kind, the Oslo forum 2007’s agenda followed the arc of a peace process, covering vision, dialogue as the pre-eminent methodology, craftsmanship, power and interests, and finally implementation.

Drawing on this structure, the sessions were dedicated to a range of topical issues, including mediator-led situation reports from Darfur, Kosovo, Lebanon, Nepal and Sri Lanka; the potential and challenges for dialogue in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iran; the challenges of transformation from armed group pariahs into politicians with perspectives from Nepal and Northern Ireland; the use of psychological approaches in mediation; the potential for public opinion polling as a peace process management tool and identifying pragmatic strategies to address the ongoing lack of women and their perspectives at formal peace tables.



2nd Oslo Forum Peacewriter Prize

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) is launching the second edition of the Oslo Forum Peacewriter Prize, an essay competition seeking bold and innovative responses to today’s peacemaking challenges.