More than 150 global leaders, mediators, conflict actors and experts from 60 countries gathered at this year’s Oslo Forum, underscoring the critical importance of mediation and peacemaking in the face of the most violent conflicts since the Second World War.

The Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, opened the Forum with livestreamed remarks: “We have to invest in peace, however hopeless it seems.”

From Gaza and Ukraine to Sudan and Myanmar, conflicts have forced displacement to a new high of around 120 million people worldwide. “The risk indicators for cataclysmic war are growing,” one speaker outlined in the opening session.

Geopolitical competition has come back with great intensity, with local and regional conflicts increasingly influenced by big power politics. “Processes are challenged from above and below at the same time,” said another speaker.

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Oslo Forum 2024

Photos: © Oslo Forum / Ilja C. Hendel

Co-hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), participants at the two-day meeting included the President of Somalia, Prime Minister of Norway, Deputy Prime Ministers of Jordan and Moldova, Foreign Ministers of Norway, Indonesia and Jordan, State Ministers from Qatar, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

This year’s theme – “Mediation against all odds” – addressed the complex conflict landscape and significant challenges facing the peacemaking community, nearly a decade since the last comprehensive peace agreements in the Philippines and Colombia.

Across a range of thematic and geographically focused sessions, under the Chatham House Rule of non-attribution, participants shared creative ideas, reflected on best practice and re-emphasised the value of international and institutional cooperation – glimmers of hope in an otherwise grim picture.

A plenary session on the Middle East featured diverse perspectives on what one participant called a “deeply and dangerously volatile” region. This prompted others to reflect on what is required to end the violence and support those actors who are willing to take the “painful road” towards peace.

“There have been armed groups that have laid down their weapons and become politicians, some of whom are present in this room. If this happened elsewhere, it can happen in the Middle East too,” one participant said.

Other discussions offered opportunities to analyse the situations in Myanmar, Haiti and Afghanistan, the role of state mediators in peace processes and the relevance of impartiality in today’s mediation.

Participants also explored the apparent erosion of respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as new approaches to negotiation with criminal gangs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As a new addition to this year’s programme, participants took part in tabletop exercises on ceasefires, the digital frontlines of conflict and the intersection of climate change and peacemaking.

A full report from Oslo Forum 2024 will be published in the coming months, along with a new season of The Mediator’s Studio podcast recorded with prominent peacemakers during the retreat.

Click here to read and download the Oslo Forum 2023 report.

Click here for Seasons 1–5 of The Mediator’s Studio podcast.