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Introducing: The Mediator’s Studio
17th June 2020 • The Mediator's Studio • An Oslo Forum podcast
00:00:00 00:06:45

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What happens behind closed doors when peace agreements are negotiated? The Mediator’s Studio gives you a glimpse into the normally hidden world of peace diplomacy: first-hand stories from mediators, armed groups and governments on what it takes to end wars. Join our host Adam Cooper, in a conversation with Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, to get a sneak peek of the show. The Mediator’s Studio is a podcast from the Oslo Forum, the world’s leading mediation retreat. It’s brought to you by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Transcripts

Ine Eriksen Søreide:

It's really the high point of my diplomatic calendar. The world's leading mediators come together behind closed doors and reveal inside stories from the frontlines of peacemaking. With the global pandemic forcing us apart, we need to bring people together as never before. So we've decided to create a podcast giving wider audiences a glimpse into the normally hidden world of secret efforts to end conflict.

Adam Cooper:

From the Oslo Forum, welcome to a sneak preview of The Mediator's Studio, a new podcast about peacemakers, bringing you stories from behind the scenes. I'm your host, Adam Cooper. Many of you will be listening to this under lockdown at the moment. Maybe wondering why, amidst all the other podcasts out there, you should listen to this one. Well, to help explain why, I'm joined today by the Foreign Minister of a country whose quiet diplomacy has transformed our world – from the walk in the woods that led to the Oslo Peace Accords, to covert efforts which ended one of the 20th century's longest civil wars in Latin America. Ine Eriksen Søreide. Foreign Minister of Norway, welcome to The Mediator's Studio.

Ine Eriksen Søreide:

Hi, Adam. It's really great to be here.

Adam Cooper

Wonderful. Thanks for making the time. As you were saying just now, Ine, we've been forced by the coronavirus to postpone the Oslo Forum, which Norway hosts together with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and at this time of year we'd normally be meeting just outside Oslo to hear from some of the most skilled mediators of our age talking about their efforts to end wars. What for you is so special about that gathering?

Ine Eriksen Søreide:

One of the most special things about the Oslo Forum is the fact that it is not necessarily an event for VIPs. It's an event for practitioners, for those who are on the ground trying to broker peace. And it's really fascinating to see people coming together from all corners of the world, people who would otherwise never have a chance to talk. And you can see people who could be enemies when they are at home. They could really have a conversation they would otherwise never be able to have.

Adam Cooper:

Because this is a slightly surreal experience, the Oslo Forum, isn't it? I mean I remember from my own visits there, you've got armed group leaders, government negotiators, grassroots activists, all walking the same halls and corridors. It is quite a magical collection of people who are assembled there.

Ine Eriksen Søreide

What I find amazing is that everyone seems to have very low shoulders. You are entering the Oslo Forum not only because you are having a certain role in a certain NGO or you are a diplomat, but because you have something to contribute. I think everyone realises when they're doing practical peace work in mediation that in many instances, if it is known that you are having talks with armed groups or if you are an armed group having talks with government, that would immediately halt the process. It wouldn't be possible. If you can do it in a different environment with different people around you, it can take a totally different course.

Adam Cooper:

Which brings us to the podcast. And as you said, the annual retreat in June has been postponed and we're launching The Mediator's Studio podcast. What are your hopes and ambitions for the series?

Ine Eriksen Søreide

The ambitions, of course, being very high, Adam!

Adam Cooper

Of course!

Ine Eriksen Søreide:

But first of all, I think on the content, listeners are going to hear some extraordinarily engaging personal stories from people who have, in a way, risked their lives literally on the frontlines of peacemaking. And I can give you a sneak peek of, for instance, flying rebel leaders to secret peace talks in Cuba. I think the audience also will hear a very powerful inside story of the woman who typed the peace agreement which resolved the violent political crisis in Kenya. And I would say almost our own BBC's Lyse Doucet is going to give some of her insights and reflecting the role of the reporter in peacemaking. She has been covering all of the major conflicts in our era, and there will be, I would say, some amazing content from those who have actually been there.

Adam Cooper

Because, of course, this isn't something which is normally in the public domain at all, is it?

Ine Eriksen Søreide:

No, no, no. And this is in a way, part and parcel of the Oslo Forum. But we will try to bring something of that out to the audience this time. So what we're trying to do with the podcast is to give a glimpse into this normally hidden world and the backroom diplomacy. People will learn something about the anatomy of peacemaking to maybe get a better understanding of the real methodology of peacemaking

Adam Cooper:

Well at a time when conflict's in the headlines, we probably need a good dose of that. Who are you hoping will listen to the podcast, Ine?

Ine Eriksen Søreide:

Well, I'm not only hoping, I actually firmly believe that this podcast is going to reach a really wide general audience because people like access to privileged information or the idea that you're taking people behind the scenes in every sense of the word. So there are some stories here that I think have never been told before to a general audience. It will also be quite essential to listen to for anyone working in international affairs, be it NGOs, charities, students, foundations, academic institutions, politicians, diplomats, journalists, everyone covering wars and peace efforts. It is for anyone and everyone who cares about the world. And I think this really is something that is going to be quite new in the jungle of podcasts.

Adam Cooper:

Thank you, Ine, for sharing that with us. Thank you for giving us a sneak peek of what our listeners can expect down the track. Thank you for being with us.

Ine Eriksen Søreide

Thank you for having me.

Adam Cooper:

That was Ine Eriksen Søreide, Foreign Minister of Norway, giving us a sneak preview of The Mediator's Studio, a new Oslo Forum podcast brought to you by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you like the sound of it, you can get the first episode and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and do recommend it to a friend. You can also find them at osloforum.org, where you can read more about the Forum itself. For the moment, that's all for me, Adam Cooper – I hope you'll join me again soon.

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