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The Colombian president and leader of the FARC guerrillas shake hands at the signing of the peace accord in June 2016 in Havana, in the presence of Raoul Castro.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono sealing the peace accord in June 2016 in Havana, in the presence of Raoul Castro. (© Keystone)

Switzerland is a globally renowned and sought-after partner as a mediator in peace negotiations and in supporting mediation and peace processes. In recent years it has accompanied over 30 peace processes in more than 20 countries. Switzerland is increasingly deploying experts to international organisations such as the UN and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), to mediate in conflicts on behalf of the organisation.

With the agreement of the parties in conflict, Switzerland creates a space for negotiations – it does not take sides or influence the agenda. It helps the parties to identify the root causes, formulate their concerns and work out solutions.

Mediation as part of Switzerland’s good offices (PDF, 1 Page, 182.4 kB, English)

There are five different types of activities linked to mediation:

1. Dialogue support

Switzerland facilitates and structures dialogue between conflicting parties to deepen mutual understanding.

Example: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Switzerland supports a dialogue between municipalities, local authorities and security forces, which helps them to coexist and to prevent political and armed violence.

2. Facilitation

‘Mediation light’: On request, Switzerland facilitates talks between parties to help clarify issues and prepare for future peace processes.

Example: Switzerland is facilitating the UN-led peace process as part of the negotiations with Syria . One outcome of this process was the launch of the Syrian constitutional committee in 2019.

In Libya, Switzerland is supporting UN peace efforts by co-chairing the working group on human rights and international humanitarian law within the Berlin process.

3. Negotiation support

Switzerland supports conflicting parties by providing expertise on how to conduct negotiations, for instance.

Examples: Peace negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas from 2012-16 in Havana, Cuba; peace negotiations in Mozambique, which Switzerland has been coordinating and supporting since 2017 at the request of the government and the opposition.

4. Mediation support

Switzerland helps conflicting parties to structure the mediation process or supports other mediators, e.g. in matters relating to the content and process, without actually guiding the mediation.

Example: In Syria, Switzerland is supporting the inclusion of civil society in the peace process through a platform for dialogue (Civil Society Support Room) established in Geneva.

5. Mediation

Switzerland is responsible for guiding the process in terms of both strategy and content. It leads the team of mediators and provides thematic expertise.

Example: Mediation between the government of Mozambique and RENAMO in 2017 and 2018.

Professionalisation

In order to meet the demand for Swiss mediation, Switzerland is increasing its capacities and professionalising the mediation. It offers basic and advanced training courses with partners such as swisspeace on a regular basis. Since November 2017, Switzerland has also been contributing to a master’s programme in mediation in peace processes at the ETH Zurich. The programme is the only one of its kind worldwide. It is also supported by Germany, Finland, Sweden, the UN and the OSCE.

Master of Advanced Studies ETH Mediation in Peace Processes

Last update 07.03.2022

Contact

Peace and Human Rights Division

Bundesgasse 32
3003 Bern

Phone

+41 (0)58 462 30 50

Fax

+41 (0)58 463 89 22