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        General Assembly
6 September 2013

Original: English

Sixty-seventh session
Agenda item 33
Prevention of armed conflict

Letter dated 5 September 2013 from the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

I have the honour to transmit herewith a copy of the summary report of the second Istanbul Conference on Mediation, entitled “Keys to Successful Mediation: Perspectives from Within”, held in Istanbul, on 11 and 12 April 2013 (see annex).

I would be grateful if the present letter and its annex could be circulated as a document of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 33.

(Signed) Y. Halit Çevik
Permanent Representative

Annex to the letter dated 5 September 2013 from the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

Summary report

Second Istanbul Conference on Mediation
11 and 12 April 2013, Istanbul

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the second Istanbul Conference on Mediation on 11 and 12 April 2013, the theme “Keys to Successful Mediation: Perspectives from Within”. The conference was held under the auspices of H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey.

The Istanbul Conferences on Mediation are designed to bring together international, governmental and civil society actors engaged in conflict prevention and mediation activities to discuss how to enhance interaction, understanding and cooperation among themselves with a view to increasing the effectiveness of the international community’s mediation efforts. The Conference is gradually establishing itself as a traditional platform in the field of mediation and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The first Istanbul Conference on Mediation, held on 24 and 25 February 2012, focused on the theoretical and conceptual aspects of mediation, including the role of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and regional organizations and coordination and capacity-building problems. The first Conference was instrumental in analysing issues that were later addressed in the United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation, which is contained in the annex to the report of the Secretary-General entitled “Strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution” ( A/66/811 ). It also contributed to the objectives of the Mediation for Peace Initiative, which was launched in 2010 by Turkey and Finland and has become one of the main platforms for discussing and promoting mediation as an effective means for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

In the light of the discussions at the first Conference, the second Istanbul Conference on Mediation focused on the practical lessons learned with regard to specific conflicts that have been prominent on the international agenda. The conference sought to examine issues in the field and practice of mediation by talking to practitioners from different sectors such as government, non-governmental and regional organizations, the United Nations and academia.

During the second Conference, five main panels were held on the themes “The Case of Afghanistan”, “The Middle East Peace Process”, “Conversation on Mediation: ‘Ways to Success’”, “The Case of Somalia” and “The Case of Syria”. The sessions focused on the work of practitioners dealing directly with related issues in a wide array of geographical locations.

The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Turkey and Finland, the President of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly and the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in the Philippines addressed the Conference at its high-level session.

Following is a summary of the discussions that took place at the Conference.

Summary of the panel discussions


The regional context was often mentioned as one of the most crucial determinants of the outcome of the mediation processes. During the debate on the Middle East peace process, the changing regional geopolitical landscape was singled out as a key variable to be considered, given the Arab transformations.


High-level session


The President of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly praised Mr. Davutoğlu as an exceptional mediator. He commended the Istanbul Conference for helping to increase discussions on mediation and other forms of peaceful settlement. ... He acknowledged that there have been positive developments regarding the promotion of Palestine to the status of observer State in the General Assembly, but emphasized that mediation would play a crucial role in the settlement of the conflict with Israel. ...


The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey ... On the question of Palestine, he called for support for a two-State solution and the recognition of the 1967 borders. He said that the key issues of Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem need to be addressed with a new approach. He stated the need for visionary justice and order at the global level and pointed to the imbalance between the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly. Lastly, he condemned the immobility of the international community in preventing the escalation of violent conflict.

Second Istanbul Conference on Mediation

Keys to Successful Mediation: Perspectives from Within

Istanbul, 11 and 12 April 2013

11 April
09.30-09.45 Registration
09.45-10.00 Welcome address by Ambassador Şafak Göktürk, Director-General for Policy Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
10.00-11.30 First session: The Case of Afghanistan
Moderator: Francesc Vendrell, former Special Representative of the European Union and the United Nations for Afghanistan
What are the main challenges facing Afghanistan in the next two years that will be decisive in the establishment of lasting peace and stability in the country after 2014? What are the Afghan High Peace Council’s priorities and expectations from the reconciliation process? What are the issues hindering the progress of the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan? How can these be overcome? How can the armed opposition groups be engaged on a political platform? How should the international community assist the Afghan Government in its efforts? What is the role of the immediate and regional neighbours? How are the current processes contributing to mediation efforts?
    • Jan Kubis, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Afghanistan
    • Aziz Ahmed Khan, Consultant, National Defense University, Islamabad, Pakistan
    • Masoom Stanekzai, Head of the Afghan High Peace Council Secretariat, Afghanistan
    • Basat Öztürk, Ambassador of Turkey to Afghanistan
11.30-12.00 Coffee break
12.00-13.30 Second session: The Middle East Peace Process
Moderator: Mouin Rabbani, Crisis Management Initiative, Palestine Director
How much does the Israeli-Palestinian issue still matter in its own right and strategically, given the Arab Spring and other developments in the region? What are the current realities of the political and economic environment for progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace? Is a two-State solution still viable? How could it be re-launched? What is the legacy of the Oslo model and its incremental approach? How can momentum be built for a two-State solution? What are the major impediments? Are there incentives that could lead to a change of course by both parties? How can peace constituencies be reinforced? If a two-State solution is no longer viable or is not achieved, are there alternatives? Are alternatives to the two-State solution practical?
    • Samih al-Abed, former Minister, Member of the Palestinian Negotiation Team
    • Yossi Beilin, former Minister, Israeli politician
    • Taha Özhan, President of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
    • Professor Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
13.45-15.00 Lunch break
15.30-17.30 Third session: Conversation on Mediation — “Ways to Success”
Moderator: Professor Bülent Aras, Chairman of the Center for Strategic Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey
    • Teresita Quintos Deles, Secretary, Office of the President for the Peace Process, Philippines
    • Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan
    • Levent Bilman, Director, Policy and Mediation Division, Department of Political Affairs, United Nations Secretariat
    • Professor Fuat Keyman, Director, Istanbul Policy Center, Sabancı University
20.00-22.00 Welcome dinner
12 April, Friday
10.00-11.30 Fourth session: The Case of Somalia
Moderator: Mahamat Saleh Annadif, African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia
What are the root causes of the 20-year-long Somali conflict? What are the lessons learned from the previous mediation efforts in Somalia? How can the international community assist the Federal Government to develop its capacity and resources in the State-building and peacebuilding processes in a coordinated and harmonized manner? Is it more appropriate to follow a bottom-up approach in rebuilding the State institutions and functions? What are the challenges in the security and justice sector reform effort? What are the real issues before the attainment of national reconciliation? What are the Federal Government’s priorities and expectations in the reconciliation area? Does the Federal Government have the necessary capabilities and tools in this area? How can we increase our understanding and knowledge about the stakeholders who are the influential local leaders in the Somali society as well as about the local conditions?
    • Jamal Mohamed Barrow, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Somalia
    • Kani Torun, Ambassador of Turkey to Somalia
    • Alexander Rondos, European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa
    • Afyare Abdi Elmi, author and Assistant Professor at Qatar University
11.30-12.00 Coffee break
12.00-13.30 Fifth session: The Case of Syria
Moderator: Peter Harling, Project Director, Middle East Program, International Crisis Group
What role, if there is any exists in Syria for mediation at the current stage of the conflict? In the course of the evolution of the conflict, has there been any particular moment where mediation could have produced significant change? What is the best way of having the Syrians in the driver seat for a peaceful and lasting solution? How and to which extent can the international community contribute to such an effort? Should international community commit itself in advance to safeguard the full implementation of any possible outcome reached in dialogue efforts? Would it be helpful to bring together the eminent persons across the region representing different religions, sects and ethnic groups under the umbrella of a regional platform with a view to supporting the efforts towards lasting stability in Syria? What are the main prerequisites for a successful transition in Syria? Is a transition with some elements of the Assad regime retaining some form of power a viable option?
    • Mustafa Sabbagh, Secretary General of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces
    • Ömer Önhon, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey/former Ambassador to Syria
    • Jon Wilks, United Kingdom Representative to the Syrian Opposition
14.00-15.30 Lunch hosted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
15.15-17.00 Concluding (high-level) session
Presenter: Ambassador Şafak Göktürk, Director-General for Policy Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    • H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Turkey
    • H.E. Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland
    • H.E. Vuk Jeremic, President of the sixty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly
    • H.E. Teresita Quintos Deles, Secretary, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in the Philippines


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