What happens behind closed doors when peace agreements are negotiated? The Mediator’s Studio gives you a glimpse into the normally hidden world of peace diplomacy. Host Adam Cooper brings you first-hand stories from mediators, armed groups and governments on what it takes to end wars. The Mediator’s Studio is a podcast from the Oslo Forum, the world’s leading mediation retreat. It’s brought to you by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Ghaith Abdul Ahad on reporting from the front lines
Journalist Ghaith Abdul Ahad reflects on 20 years of reporting from conflict areas including Yemen and Afghanistan. Recalling the 2003 US invasion of Iraq that made him leave his former career as an architect, he reveals how he once talked his way into Saddam Hussein’s palace and what it’s like to sit across the table from people who committed atrocities. He also reflects on the challenges of mediation – arguing that people are often less concerned with ideological narratives than sheer survival and how armoured convoys and green zones can get in the way of real connection with people on the ground.
Annette Weber on the importance of working with insiders
EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Annette Weber, provides us with a front-row perspective on her decades-long work in the region, beginning with her time as a young researcher writing about female combatants in South Sudan and Eritrea. She reveals why she still gets goose bumps when thinking about the recent revolution in Sudan, and discusses what it’s like to sit down in the evenings with people who have been fighting each other during the day.
Joaquim Chissano on mediation and meditation in Mozambique
Former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano charts his journey from freedom fighter to head of state. He discusses his role in securing Mozambique’s independence from colonial rule and reveals why he did not want to become president after his predecessor’s sudden death in 1986. As a peacemaker, he reflects on how he convinced the Mozambican people to reconcile with former RENAMO fighters after the country’s civil war. He also shares why he introduced transcendental meditation to the military and what it’s like to be friends with Nelson Mandela.
Khawla Mattar on a lifeline for Syria's besieged towns
Former UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Khawla Mattar, charts her path from covering the Lebanese civil war as a young journalist to her long career in the multilateral system. Starting out as the “joke of the UN” - an Arab Muslim woman not expected to succeed in negotiating with extremists - she quickly proved doubters wrong by crossing into ISIL and al-Nusra territory and successfully negotiating local ceasefires. Her first-hand account of wartime Syria not only reveals the horrors and desperation of war, but also her admiration for the resilience of young Syrians and her unwavering hope for a rebuilt country.
Martin Kimani on Kenya’s “African agenda” in the Security Council
Kenya’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Martin Kimani, reflects on his nation’s role as a “clear voice for Africa” on the Security Council, and stresses the importance of calling out hypocrisy and colonial nostalgia on the global stage. Taking us behind the scenes of the UN’s vote on Ukraine, he argues that Western countries should not have framed it as a matter of “East versus West”. He also discusses the challenges of nation building and explains why he would bet that African officials are some of the most advanced political engineers in the world.
Fatima Gailani on Afghanistan’s missed opportunities
Peace negotiator and former President of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, Fatima Gailani, shares behind-the-scenes moments from her long career in Afghan politics – from the 1980s, when she became a spokesperson for the Mujahideen, to 2021, when she came out of retirement to take part in negotiations with the Taliban. She recalls childhood memories of Afghanistan’s “Golden Era” and the subsequent shock of seeing a country scarred by civil war when she returned from exile many years later. Her first-hand account reveals what it is like to be a woman in the predominantly male realm of Afghan politics, and why she continues to hope for a truly inclusive peace.
Great insight with some fascinating stories behind significant events. Highly recommended
This is a really fantastic podcast. Adam interviews a fascinating cast of people with great insights into mediation and some amazing stories to tell. Not to be missed!
Fascinating for all
Masterful initial episodes of a fascinating topic. I am not a pro in the area of peace and mediation ( or even an amateur) but I imagine this is of equal interest to both people with expertise in this area and people, like me, with a general interest in how the world works. Top quality interviews and interviewer.