About the Author
is a mediator,
complex multi-party disputes.
He has worked in
over 20 countries,
and is founder and
first President of
As the reach and destructive capacity of human conflicts continue to escalate; as migrants stream across
borders fleeing terrorism and civil war; and as ethnic
and religious differences, environmental pressures and
economic dislocations uproot families and communities around the world, it is becoming abundantly clear
that the conflict resolution capacity we presently possess is entirely inadequate.
It is equally clear that the problems we face can
no longer be solved by individual nation-states, and
that regional and global cooperation will be increasingly necessary, requiring us to cross the borders we
created over centuries to keep others out, favor local
economies and defend national sovereignty against
presumptively hostile neighbors.
It would be natural to look to the United Nations to
encourage, guide, and facilitate this international cooperation. The U.N. has some capacity already to mediate
or facilitate the peaceful resolution of conflicts, but it
needs orders of magnitude more. Its limited mandate,
lack of significant enforcement capacity, restricted
funding and politically constrained operations imposed
by adversarial, sovereignty-conscious nations, both in
the Security Council and the General Assembly, have
narrowed the range of its interventions and kept it from
responding to a broad array of religious, ethnic, gender,
political, social, economic and intrastate disputes that
are becoming increasingly destructive and consequential.
Fortunately, the U.N. could, with a small number
of relatively inexpensive and easily implemented
improvements, become a vastly more powerful
preventive force in resolving not just international disputes, but a growing number of subnational intrastate
and internecine conflicts.
WHAT THE U.N. IS DOING
From its inception, and with international agreement
on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N.
has been the hope of war-weary people everywhere.
Among its fundamental purposes are the prevention of
war and protection of human rights, and mediation is
an important tool for carrying out both these missions.
Consider, for example, Article 2 of the Universal Dec-
laration of Human Rights, which provides:
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and free-
doms set forth in this Declaration, without
distinction of any kind, such as race, colour,
sex, language, religion, political or other opinion,
national or social origin, property, birth or other
status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be
made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional
or international status of the country or ter-
ritory to which a person belongs, whether it
be independent, trust, non-self-governing or
under any other limitation of sovereignty.
While gender and similar categories are not explicitly
mentioned, they are arguably included in “other sta-
tus.” More problematically, however, Article 2 states,
Nothing contained in the present Charter shall
authorize the United Nations to intervene
in matters which are essentially within the
domestic jurisdiction of any state.
It was originally proposed that international law
would determine what is "solely within the domestic
jurisdiction" of a state according to international law,
but when the U.S. Congress demanded that the reference to "international law" be removed, they were
Strengthening the United Nations:
Toward a “Conflict Revolution”
“Everything has changed,
except the way we think.”
on learning of the destruction
“In your veins, and in mine,
there is only one blood,
the same life that animates us all!
Since one unique mother begat us all,
Where did we learn to