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UN's credibility in conflict resolution in danger, UPH chairman warns Moscow audience

27 February 2020 – At an academic meeting in Moscow, chairman Robert Serry of UPEACE Centre The Hague (UPH) presented the work of the United Nations in international conflict resolution, stressing that the UN’s efforts are too important to be marginalised. Serry also highlighted the possibilities of Track II Dialogues to overcome conflicts.

UPH chairman Robert Serry discussing UN challenges and Track II diplomacy in Moscow. (Photo: RIAC)

Serry gave a lecture on February 21 to experts and students at the Russian Council of International Affairs (RIAC) in Moscow, where he drew on his experiences on crisis management and operations for NATO, as UN Envoy on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and as mediator in Ukraine.


“This will not be a very good story”, Serry warned his audience, “but the UN is too important and it risks being marginalized. The credibility of the UN in conflict resolution is being undermined.” This was the start of an extensive discussion on the evolution of the role of the United Nations in conflict resolution, and the instruments that the Security Council has under the UN Charter.


Serry illustrated the UN’s work in practice by describing his experiences as UN mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, “the longest unresolved conflict in UN history”. (As a former UN envoy, he recently co-signed an open letter in The Guardian of 50 former foreign ministers and leaders expressing concern over the recent US Middle East plan.)


He then explained how a Track II Dialogue can help to mediate to solve conflicts behind the scenes. “Such talks should take place between experts – not officials – in a trusted space and in confidentiality. Here, practical ideas and solutions can be proposed and fed into the formal Track I negotiations.”


The ensuing debate with the audience covered various themes, such as the question of legitimacy and legality in international interventions, reform of the Security Council, and the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.


Serry’s presentation on the UN follows in the tracks of the university courses that he offered as a visiting professor to students at UPEACE campus in Costa Rica last November.


See the video of the discussion at RIAC in Moscow here.