Advancing mediation and peace initiatives: The first Oslo Forum retreat in Latin America and the Caribbean

More than 50 mediation experts, conflict actors and senior government officials from 25 countries gathered in Mexico in February to explore ways to support and advance peace initiatives in the region.

“The retreat is a very good opportunity to analyse what we have to correct structurally, what our biggest obstacle is to successful mediations and what countries can do together in the region,” Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard told the delegates.

Click here for the photo album.

The two-day meeting – hosted by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) – was the first in Latin America and the Caribbean for the Oslo Forum, the leading series of retreats for the international mediation and peacemaking community.

In a discreet and informal setting, the delegates discussed current conflicts in the region, analysed the challenges to mediation efforts from multiple layers of violence and proposed tools for resolution.

“We again live in turbulent times for international peace and security,” said Anniken Huitfeldt, Norway’s Foreign Minister. “Important lessons and innovations can be drawn from conflict resolution in Latin America. We are proud to gather many of the leading voices for peace and reconciliation at a time when you are needed the most.”

The retreat included sessions on the ongoing peace processes in Colombia and the prospect of negotiations on Venezuela. In a discussion on security and stability in Haiti, delegates underlined the importance of a Haitian-led solution to address the multifaceted crisis, combined with the need for international assistance.

In a session on conflict prevention and peacebuilding in Central America, participants recalled the hope raised by the peace agreements of the early 1990s and the inability to realise the goals they had aspired to.

Noting a marked deterioration in democratic consolidation in some countries, they proposed greater attention to Central America on the international agenda and said financial institutions have an important contribution to make to conflict prevention efforts.

Participants also explored the challenges, risks and practical objectives when negotiating with gangs and criminal organisations. Reflecting on social movements and intense political mobilisation across the region in recent years, they agreed that poverty and exclusion continue to drive discontent and protests.

Across the retreat, participants highlighted lessons from past peace processes that are relevant for today’s mediation efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean and beyond.

The Mediator’s Studio, a fixture of the Oslo Forum, featured an in-depth discussion with veteran peace negotiator Álvaro de Soto.

Born from a modest meeting 20 years ago, the Oslo Forum has grown to become the leading annual retreat for mediators and other peace process actors. Closed-door discussions, held under the Chatham House Rule of non-attribution, allow participants to speak openly and put forward ideas for sustainable solutions to violent conflicts.

Past guests include Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Jimmy Carter, former US President; Mohammad Javad Zarif, former Foreign Minister of Iran; Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia; Fatou Bensouda, former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Retno Marsudi, Foreign Minister of Indonesia; and Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa.

Click here to read and download the full Oslo Forum 2022 report.

Click here for Seasons 1-4 of The Mediator’s Studio podcast series with prominent peacemakers.

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