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, former 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.
The fifteenth Oslo Forum convened one hundred of the world’s leading peacemakers, conflict actors, decision-makers and academics, bringing together people with forty-two different nationalities. The participants included Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Maria Ángela Holguín, the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Thabo Mbeki, the former President of the Republic of South Africa; Rodrigo Londoño (Timoleón Jiménez), the Head of FARC-EP; John Kerry, the former United States Secretary of State; Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations; and Børge Brende, the Norwegian Foreign Minister.
The Forum’s overarching theme was ‘Peacemaking in a new era of geopolitics’. Those attending explored how growing regional and international competition among powerful states is influencing conflict resolution efforts around the world. They discussed the prospects for mediation processes in environments which are increasingly shaped by geopolitical rivalries, how mediators can avoid becoming pawns in a bigger chess game, and what can be done to encourage an alignment of great power interests for the sake of peace.
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.