As part of its conflict mediation and dialogue activities, and where political dialogue may be difficult or impossible, the HD Centre undertakes mediation on a humanitarian basis. Humanitarian mediation enables the parties in conflict to address key issues, such as safe access and protection of civilians, the special needs of women and children, displaced populations and any affected minority groups. It is intended to complement and support potential peace efforts and keep open essential and discreet channels of communication. Humanitarian mediation often provides a way to begin dialogue when other methods are impeded and it can engage non-State actors, who may otherwise be excluded, as well as United Nations and humanitarian agencies. This can provide a valuable confidence-building process for subsequent peace negotiators.
The HD Centre’s Humanitarian Mediation Programme (HMP) is currently focused on four projects: ongoing humanitarian mediation in Darfur, a regional humanitarian dialogue in South East Asia, a confidential project in Central Asia and, closed-door dialogue sessions in Geneva. It plans to expand these projects into new areas over the next three years.
Drawing on its experience of mediation and on its previous work on civilian protection, in August 2007 the HD Centre launched humanitarian mediation activities to reduce human suffering in war.
Gaps in the area of civilian protection were identified and based on this, the HD Centre focused on improving civilian protection at the country and regional levels and in particular on improving the approach of regional and international actors to civilian protection in Africa. The focus has since shifted to providing opportunities for dialogue and mediation on humanitarian issues to belligerents, state and non-state actors and humanitarian agencies in Africa and Asia.
The HD Centre has undertaken various humanitarian mediation projects in Africa, Central Asia and Asia, where political dialogue has been non-existent or has not progressed while humanitarian issues remain unaddressed. This type of mediation has also been utilized in post-conflict situations where unresolved humanitarian issues have resulted in ongoing tensions.
The humanitarian mediation programme aims to draw on the HD Centre's experience to address key humanitarian issues while keeping discreet channels of communication for all parties open. It aims to maintain at least two priority humanitarian mediation programmes in each of the major regions of its operations by 2014.
The HD Centre would like to thank the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Canada’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Unit, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the United States Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration, and the Government of Switzerland for their financial support to this project.
The HD Centre would also like to thank the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and of the Netherlands for their support to this programme in 2008-2010.