What is mediation?

Mediation is a confidential dispute resolution process, in which a neutral third-party professional—a mediator—helps the parties in dispute to engage in a constructive conversation, discuss issues, express interests, brainstorm options, find common ground, and, where applicable, reach consensus with a view to resolving the dispute.

All mediations conducted by the Mediation Unit of the Office of the Ombudsman for United Nations Funds and Programmes are based on the four key principles of the Office: confidentiality, impartiality and neutrality, independence, and informality.

The Office also operates in accordance with the mediation principles of voluntary participation, self-determination, and informed consent.

Mediation Principles

Voluntary participation

The participation of disputing parties in mediation is voluntary, which means that the parties engage in the process voluntarily. Similarly, the parties exit from the process voluntarily. The voluntary nature of the process enables the parties to be honest and candid in communicating their own perspective, to control the process, and to achieve mutual understanding.


The mediator will not impose any solutions on the parties. The disputing parties will have the right and power to decide the outcome of the dispute, to explore and find a solution acceptable to them. In an adjudicative process, however, such as the United Nations Dispute Tribunal or arbitration, a judge or an arbitrator will impose a binding outcome on the disputing parties.

Informed consent

During the process, the mediator will ensure that the parties understand the risks and benefits of a settlement so that they can make an informed decision.

The role of the mediator?

The role of the mediator is to facilitate the discussion between the parties and to help the parties to reach a satisfactory outcome, in confidence, and in the spirit of trust. The mediator does not take sides nor judge who is right or wrong, but rather creates an opportunity for the parties to have a constructive dialogue with the professional assistance of a neutral and independent mediator.

Who can request mediation?

The members of the UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS, and UN Women workforce who seek to resolve a workplace dispute are eligible to request mediation services from the Mediation Unit of the Office regardless of their contractual modality (including managers, other staff members, consultants, and interns). The Office ultimately retains the discretion to determine whether a case is appropriate for mediation. If the matter is not suitable for mediation, the Visitor may choose to discuss the issues through the ombudsman services. Any party that participates in mediation retains the right to pursue formal dispute-resolution processes.

How to request mediation?

Typically, mediation commences with a party initiating the process by sending an email to the Office at with a brief description of the situation that such party is facing. All communications with the Office, including this initial communication, are strictly confidential. Once a need for mediation is expressed and the Mediation Unit determines that mediation is appropriate, the Mediation Unit will obtain both parties’ consent to the mediation process.

More information about how mediation can help you in your situation, please review the documents below.

Mediation Resources

Mediation guide

This Mediation Guide describes the role of the Mediation Unit of the Office in supporting effective conflict resolution and collaboration among the members of the workforce, with particular focus on the enhanced capacity of the Office for timely and effective provision of top-quality mediation services.

Download: English (PDF)

Mediation process

This document provides a useful illustrative chart to describe the mediation process and the steps involved therein.

Download: English (PDF)

Guide for mediation lawyers and parties represented by lawyers in mediations

Although this guide is specifically designed for mediation lawyers and parties represented by lawyers in mediation, it can also be useful for an unrepresented party to develop a strategy to and prepare for an upcoming mediation session.

Download: English (PDF)

The Code of Conduct

The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to ensure that all mediators of the Global Mediation Panel of the Office of Ombudsman for the United Nations Funds and Programmes are guided by a single set of ethical rules and principles.

Download: English (PDF)

Agreement to mediate

The parties are requested to sign an agreement to mediate before engaging in mediation, which ensures the parties’ compliance with the basic principles of mediation.

Download: English (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This document provides a list of common questions that users of mediation have. But if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Download: English (PDF)

General Operating Principles of the International Advisory Board

This document provides the terms and conditions of the Members of the International Advisory Board as well as sets out the fundamental rules and processes for the operation of the Board.

Download: English (PDF)