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National dialogues support peace in an unstable world – Conference on National Dialogues in Helsinki

Published on Thursday, 16 June 2022

The opening panel of the NDC discussed the role of national dialogues in the changing world. Panel was chaired by Dr Mohamed Elsanousi and included high-level panelists Hanna Tetteh, Maria Raczyńska and Pekka Haavisto. Picture: Maria Santto / CMI

The Fifth National Dialogues Conference (NDC) has brought about 120 peace mediation experts from 30 different countries to Helsinki on 15–16 June. On the two days, the conference focuses on the significance and challenges of national dialogues in the changing world. 

Building sustainable peace after an armed conflict requires dialogues both between the parties to the conflict and in society at large. This year’s National Dialogues Conference asks how to re-establish the national dialogues and non-formal dialogue processes in the changing world. The participants concentrate, for example, on the increasingly important role of regional contexts and the importance of inclusion in peace processes.

The erosion of the multilateral system poses challenges to the building of sustainable peace. It is increasingly important to see that different population groups are involved in peace processes. The participation of persons with disabilities is for the first time an agenda item in the conference. The participants also examine the connection between mass social movements and national dialogues as well as the impacts of climate change on conflicts and peace processes.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the situation in Myanmar, Yemen, Horn of Africa and Libya are examples of today’s complex conflicts.

This year’s conference is attended by former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana, current UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Hanna Tetteh, OSCE Special Representative on Youth and Security Maria Raczyńska,  Commissioner for Political Affairs at the African Union Bankole Adeoye, Senior Mediation Adviser at the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UNDPPA) Emmanuel Bombande, Senior Adviser in the Conflict Transformation Research Department at Berghof Foundation Veronique Dudouet, and Peace Psychologist at International Center for Peace Psychology Ufra Mir from Kashmir. Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto opened the conference and participated in the opening panel discussion.

UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Hanna Tetteh gave a keynote speech on the first day of the conference. Picture: Maria Santto / CMI

A range of new tools will be needed for conflict prevention and conflict resolution. National dialogues’ strength lies in that they bring together various actors and organisations in society to explore avenues for sustainable peace. Permanent solutions to conflicts can only be achieved by addressing the underlying political, economic and social problems.

The first National Dialogues Conference was held in 2014. Since then, it has served as an important platform for sharing best practices in peace mediation and a concrete venue for peace negotiations and various dialogues. The National Dialogues Conference  is organised in cooperation with The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, CMI, Finn Church Aid and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society. This year, the conference is hosted by Finn Church Aid.