The Oslo Forum is the leading international network of conflict mediation practitioners. Co-hosted by the Norwegian Government and HD, the Oslo Forum convenes conflict mediators, peacemakers, high-level decision-makers and key peace process actors in a series of informal and discreet retreats.
The Oslo Forum features an annual global event in Oslo as well as regional retreats in Africa and Asia. The aim is to improve conflict mediation practice through facilitating open exchange, debate and reflection across institutional and conceptual divides, providing informal networking opportunities that encourage coordination and cooperation when needed, and allowing space for conflict parties to advance their negotiations. Key materials are shared with a wider audience through the dedicated Oslo Forum official website (www.osloforum.org).
The Oslo Forum series was initiated in 2003 to convene mediators and peace process actors in a setting that would allow them to address relevant topics and challenges. Since third party mediation is often conducted in politically sensitive environments, mediators rarely have the opportunity to reflect on experiences, compare lessons learnt and develop a shared understanding of good practice. Peace processes are becoming more complex, and mediators more diverse. Present day peace processes rely on multiple third parties and involve numerous sensitive issues, including security, wealth-sharing, state-building, transitional justice, religion and politics. This environment calls for careful coordination and cooperation to ensure that interventions are focused, coherent and build on the strengths of different actors.
The Oslo Forum offers discreet opportunities for those actively involved in conflict mediation to exchange experiences, reflect on current practice, and plan future work through immediate access to key stakeholders working in the field. From a modest gathering of a handful of senior conflict mediators, the Oslo Forum has evolved into what is widely acknowledged today as the leading gathering of mediators, high-level decision-makers, key peace process actors, analysts and experts from a variety of institutional backgrounds. Participation is by invitation-only. All discussions are confidential and take place under the Chatham House Rule. Sessions are designed to stimulate informed exchanges with provocative inputs from a range of different speakers, including not only mediators but also conflict party representatives, war correspondents, outstanding analysts, thinkers and experts on specific issues. The retreats refrain from making public recommendations, aiming instead to define and advance conflict mediation practice.
Oslo Forum participants have included Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States; Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations; Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; John F. Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States; Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar; Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia; Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa; Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland; and Mohammad Khatami, former President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Oslo Forum is proud to have hosted several Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Around 130 of the world’s prominent armed conflict mediators and peace process actors gathered in Oslo, Norway from 14 to 15 June 2016, to share their experiences of peacemaking as part of the fourteenth annual Oslo Forum.
Distinguished participants at the 2016 Oslo Forum included John F. Kerry, United States Secretary of State; Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President of the Swiss Confederation; Jan K. Eliasson, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General; Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor in the International Criminal Court; Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation; the Foreign Ministers of Lebanon, Mongolia and New Zealand; and various other luminaries.
The overarching theme of this year’s event was ‘Adapting to a new conflict landscape’, reflecting the emergent set of challenges mediators face in responding to the changing face of conflict – including various combinations of sectarian tensions, radical extremism, regional rivalries, geopolitical upheaval, and state collapse. The Forum featured panel discussions, debates and roundtable sessions on a variety of topics including challenges around implementing the Libyan Peace Agreement, the Syria conflict, recent developments in Afghanistan, Burundi and Yemen, and the peace processes in Colombia and Cyprus.
For more information on the Oslo Forum Retreat series, please visit the Oslo Forum official website.
The Oslo Forum strives to critically examine the practice of conflict mediation, with a view to improving the field. Different publication formats support the Oslo Forum Retreat series and help to convey the key lessons and highlights of Oslo Forum discussions beyond the events themselves. These publications intend to provoke debate, raise insightful questions and propose new or unconventional approaches to peacemaking.
In 2013, HD launched a new publication series, the Oslo Forum Papers. These aim to provide in-depth analysis and stimulate ‘out of the box’ thinking on cutting-edge themes in peacemaking. Previous editions have focused on:
Background papers are prepared prior to Oslo Forum retreats to guide and inform discussions at the event. They aim to sensitise participants to current debates and innovative ideas. Background papers can be accessed on the Oslo Forum official website.
Meeting reports are compiled after each retreat and present a summary of the Forum’s discussions. They present key insights and lessons that emerged during the retreat to a broader audience. In accordance with the Chatham House Rule, the views presented in the Meeting reports are not attributed to specific participants. All meeting reports can be accessed on the Oslo Forum official website.
Oslo Forum publications do not represent the positions of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
HD wishes to thank the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its support and collaboration on this project.