This week, two peace processes involving the United Nations, and specifically the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), made international headlines. The Conference on Cyprus reconvened in Switzerland on 28 June 2017, while peace in Colombia moved a step closer when the FARC-EP guerrillas finished handing in their individual weapons to the UN Mission in the country on 26 June. But the good-offices and conflict-resolution work of the UN and the DPA is also carried out away from the spotlight, as we were reminded on 28 June with the announcement that the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was traveling to Skopje on 1 July. Those talks are just one of a number of more discreet dialogue efforts led by the DPA. We look below at some of these other political missions, which, although carried out quietly, are just as consequential as better known initiatives.
Greece - the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia "Name Issue"
Mr. Nimetz will be in Skopje, capital of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, from 1 to 4 July to discuss ways forward in finding a solution to the name issue.
Negotiations on the name dispute began in 1993 and have been held under the auspices of Personal Envoy Nimetz since 1999.
Equatorial Guinea - Gabon Border Dispute
On 15 November 2016, UN mediation efforts in another little-known dispute were crowned with success. That day, the Presidents of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon agreed to submit their longstanding border dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The border dispute dates back to 1972 and revolves around which country may exercise sovereignty over the Mbanié, Cocotiers and Congas islands off the West African coast. The Department of Political Affairs (DPA) has been involved in the mediation process since July 2003, at the request of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Two Special Advisors and Mediators – Yves Fortier of Canada from 2003 to 2008, and Nicolas Michel of Switzerland from 2008 to 2014 – and a Focal Point – Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman from 2014 onwards – facilitated the political agreement endorsed in Morocco.
Read more here: http://bit.ly/2u3zr1b
Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC)
In 2002 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled to hand sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula and in the disputed area in the Lake Chad region to Cameroon. The two countries subsequently asked the Secretary-General to help implement the ICJ ruling, which led to the creation of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC). The CNMC is chaired by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel.
The CNMC has largely finished its work: By 2015, about 2,000 kilometers of the 2,100 km land border had already been assessed and agreed upon by the two countries. However, the presence of Boko Haram in the border areas presents a real obstacle to wrapping up CNMC’s mission.
Read our Politically Speaking story from July 2015 on the work of the CNM: http://bit.ly/1GSsRIx
Guyana - Venezuela Border Controversy
The United Nations has also been assisting Guyana and Venezuela in resolving a long-standing border controversy between the two countries.