What is mediation?

Mediation is one aspect of the service provided by the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman for the United Nations Funds and Programmes is also a mediator by her/his professional.

Mediation is an informal, flexible and confidential conflict resolution process, in which a trained neutral without any decision making power seeks guidance for the parties of a conflict, who have sole responsibility for a lasting resolution of the conflict or dispute. Personal responsibility unfolds within the voluntary process, in which the parties of the conflict discover their individual options to take further steps and decisions. These creative options need to be analyzed and evaluated in order to develop fitting resolutions to every party of the conflict. The aim of the process is a win-win situation.

The mediator and the parties to the conflict do not need to testify in front of a UN Tribunal or another person within the organization about the process and content of the mediation. However, if the subject to the mediation is not resolved satisfactory during the informal process parties to the conflict are not deprived to pursue their case through the formal proceedings.


  • The process is flexible and informal
  • The mediation remains confidential
  • Parties to the conflict remain in control of the content of the mediation process, the mediator guides the parties trough the process
  • The mediator creates an environment in which parties to the conflict will have an equal and full voice, disregarding an organizational hierarchy
  • The past of the conflict is to analyze but the resolution of the conflict generates in future actions and mutually agreed resolutions
  • Participants have the chance to listen to each other and to develop an increased understanding of the other parties’ goals, interests, perspectives and emotions
  • Tailor-made resolutions and agreements, which are long lasting and satisfactory to all participants’ needs, can be signed and would become binding for the parties
  • Parties control the outcome of the mediation process
  • A mediation service is quicker, less costly and less stressful than a litigation process and is therefore a viable alternative to the formal justice system

What can mediation offer?

  • Ownership of the conflict remains with the parties
  • The mediator is neutral and impartial
  • Confidentiality and voluntariness
  • All participants are treated with respect, fairness and empathy

The mediation process

After the mediator explains the process and the keystones of mediation, the neutral third party encourages and enables an open dialogue. The topics creating a dispute or conflict need to be clarified. All participants will develop a clear understanding of goals, interests and needs of the parties to the conflict or dispute. Through shifting the focus from the past to the future, possibilities to settle the conflict will be identified and creative ideas and real options can be generated. Finally, the parties can agree to settle the workable and satisfying terms within a binding agreement.