The Mediation Support and Policy Unit is the nerve centre of HD’s strategy, innovation and excellence.

Known as MESU, the team in Geneva ensures programmes are aligned with HD’s peacemaking strategy as it evolves to meet the changing nature of conflicts.

MESU supports initiatives around the world with project design, planning, training and technical advice – plus rigorous monitoring and evaluation – to keep HD accountable and effective.

To create sustainable peace, HD has been expanding mediation around the environmental, inclusion and criminal factors that intensify and complicate many conflicts. See below for more on MESU’s thematic expertise.

HD’s approach to quality assurance supports teams and senior management to make better decisions, draw lessons for future work and demonstrate value through peer reviews, peacemaking-tailored evaluations and the reporting and validating of results.

Click here for details of HD’s approach to mediation and our Monitoring and Evaluation system.

HD seeks to promote the sharing of experience and knowledge by co-hosting The Oslo Forum with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Launched in 2003, the Forum is a series of retreats for the international mediation and peacemaking community to reflect on current practices, work on new approaches and advance their negotiations.

HD’s Oslo Forum team also produces The Mediator’s Studio podcast series that takes listeners behind the scenes with exceptional stories and insights from prominent peacemakers.

To ensure we contribute to the wider peacemaking world, MESU represents HD in a variety of conferences and publishes the flagship Mediation Practice Series and other reports with real-world insights and practical advice.

To enhance HD’s perspective and effectiveness, MESU builds relationships with a wide range of experts and institutions across the mediation, diplomacy, humanitarian and academic communities.

MESU also hosts and advances sector-wide discussions on peacemaking monitoring and evaluation and provides our teams with adaptive tools to ensure the effectiveness of our operations.

On the learning side, MESU has developed a series of online events and training courses for HD staff to exchange insights on the key trends affecting mediation practice and peacemaking.

Photo: Panel discussion at The Oslo Forum retreat for senior mediators and peacemakers in June 2022. © HD

Thematic expertise and mediation

Environment and climate

Ever more intense climate-related conflicts are becoming one of the biggest challenges for mediators.

At least 40% of conflicts are now driven by competition for water, land and other vital resources. With climate change, the situation is getting worse as rising temperatures, chronic drought and more violent storms force millions of people to migrate from increasingly unliveable areas.

Since 2020, HD has been building an environmental peacemaking portfolio to address the climate-driven aspects of conflict.

Our approach tackles the issues at local, national, regional and international levels.

While many peace accords have provisions about natural resources, most are limited or poorly implemented. When done right, mediation can play a key role in addressing and mitigating these challenges.

HD works to broaden dialogue about climate change and conflict and to integrate environmental issues into the overall mediation process to produce outcomes that are positive for peace and the environment.

HD’s initiatives include:

  • Across the Sahel, HD and our network of agro-pastoral mediators have resolved hundreds of community conflicts fuelled by tensions around natural resources
  • In Nigeria, HD’s efforts led to a peace agreement among 22 clans from the Agatu community on the sharing of natural resources and the safe return of thousands of displaced people
  • In Asia, HD promotes cooperative fisheries management to prevent clashes between littoral states and avert a collapse in fish stocks

Gender and inclusion

Designing mediation processes that include women, youth, civil society and marginalised groups is one of HD’s institutional priorities to achieve enduring peace.

HD’s gender and inclusion team within MESU advises colleagues across Africa, the Middle East, Eurasia, Asia and Latin America on strategic and technical approaches to inclusive mediation.

The team also provides training, resources and seed funds for gender analysis and inclusive programming. A group of experts helps to develop strategies and design processes.

HD’s publishing has a broad gender and inclusion focus, including:

Organised crime

In many areas where HD is active, organised crime and criminal agendas are driving conflict and undermining peace processes.

As awareness grows in the mediation community that peace settlements will not prosper in these situations, HD’s organised crime and peacemaking programme helps our teams to understand the impact of criminality and illicit economies on their work and to design operational responses that strengthen peace and stability.

For example, in response to allegations of corruption that nearly ruined formation of the Libyan National Government in 2020, HD ran a dialogue in 2021 with the Libyan Anti-Corruption Task Force to identify ways that anti-corruption and peace actors could work more closely together on Libya’s transition.