IGAD High Level Mediation Course

After conducting a first training workshop on mediation in peace processes for the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states in June 2010, the IGAD secretariat approached the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (UNDPA) and the Mediation Support Project (MSP) to facilitate its first High Level Mediation Course in 2014.

Over the past few years, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has been more and more involved in mediation processes in East Africa, currently in the South Sudan Peace Talks in Addis Ababa. This led to an increased demand in skilled mediators and subsequently to a need for more tailor-made capacity building. Mediators and their teams must have a broad range of knowledge and skills in order to deal with the numerous challenges, dilemmas and complexities they are usually confronted with. Therefore, the overall objective of the IGAD High Level Mediation Course was to contribute to more effective IGAD mediation by deepening the knowledge and enhancing the skills of the participants.

The one-week course was tailored around the specific needs of senior IGAD mediators and expert inputs were complemented with simulation exercises and collective experience sharing. Following broadly the generic stages of a mediation process, the course focused on refining mediation skills, exchanging experiences and lessons learnt as well as deepening the knowledge on specific mediation challenges. Throughout the course, a common understanding of the distinct IGAD approach to mediation was promoted and its challenges and limitations were discussed.

The participants group was composed of twenty-one prospective IGAD Mediators from all member states (Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti). They form the recently established IGAD Roster of Mediators, wherefore each member state nominated three prospective mediators. The Roster is expected to be formally endorsed by the IGAD Council of Ministers in the near future. In addition to the Roster members, seven personalities from the IGAD Committee of Ambassadors took part in the course.

The course was facilitated by Laurie Nathan, Director of the Centre for Mediation in Africa at the University of Pretoria and Matthias Siegfried, Head of Mediation Program at swisspeace. In addition, Jeffrey Mapendere, a member of the MSU Standby Team of Mediators responsible for Security Arrangements, acted as a resource person for the Course.

Twenty-one prospective IGAD mediators from all seven member states and an additional seven participants from the IGAD Committee of Ambassadors took part in the workshop.