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.
Teresa Whitfield on optimism in the midst of adversity
Director of the Policy and Mediation Division at the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Teresa Whitfield, takes us through the highlights and challenges of her career in conflict mediation – starting with a chance encounter at the Havana Film Festival that led her to El Salvador in the middle of a civil war. She talks about her transition from journalism to peacemaking and the evolution of mediation support, including the deployment of digital technologies in Libya. And she explains why, despite geopolitical tensions making wars increasingly difficult to resolve, the values and principles of the UN remain a beacon of hope.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas on a mediator’s “baptisms of fire”
Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, offers insights from decades mediating conflicts across Africa, from Liberia to Sudan. He takes us behind the scenes of some of the most tense moments of his career – including when he found out about protestors setting the Burkina Faso parliament ablaze while in the middle of delivering an important speech. He also recalls the harrowing experience of coming under mortar fire on a naval ship in Liberia, and how this brought home the brutal reality of war and the importance of seeking peace.
Muna Luqman on fighting for peace in Yemen
Yemeni activist and international peace advocate, Muna Luqman, reflects on her efforts to reduce suffering in her country’s deadly war – from helping open humanitarian corridors across battlefields to negotiating safe passage for those at risk. Through stories from the frontlines, she illustrates the creativity and courage of local peacemakers, whether using social media to get army tanks removed from the streets or de-escalating tensions around access to water. She also recalls how women have put their lives at risk time and again, and how they have refused to be defeated in their fight for space at the negotiating table.
Haile Menkerios on engaging with the powerful
Former freedom fighter turned UN diplomat, Haile Menkerios, recounts his role in Eritrea’s war of independence and the devastation of being exiled from the country he had fought to create. Reflecting on how his approach as a mediator in Sudan, South Sudan and beyond was shaped by his own experience of war, he stresses the importance of talking to everyone and urges us to “never stop believing in a better future”.
Lakhdar Brahimi on hopes and failures in Afghanistan
Veteran Algerian diplomat and distinguished conflict mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, provides a front-row perspective on key moments in Afghanistan’s troubled history – beginning with his appointment as UN Special Envoy in 1997, after Kabul last fell to the Taliban. He reflects on personal regrets and missed opportunities over years of peace negotiations – from Bonn to Doha – and recalls his interactions with Taliban leadership, including the meeting where a young interpreter played an unexpected part in preventing a war. He also discusses his role in Iraq and why, despite his reservations, he couldn’t say no to the task of trying to find a peaceful solution to the war in Syria.
Sneak peek: The Mediator's Studio – Season 3
Join us next week for a new season of The Mediator’s Studio podcast. Guests include a veteran mediator in Afghanistan and Syria, a former freedom fighter turned UN diplomat, a peacemaker with decades of experience across Africa, a Yemeni activist and frontline humanitarian, and more! New episodes from 15 February.