On 26–28 May 2016, a delegation of Norwegian members of the Nordic Women Mediators network conducted a field visit to Cyprus. The purpose of the visit was for the delegation to meet and learn from various actors in the Cyprus peace process. It was also an opportunity for the delegation to share their own experiences from mediation in other peace processes.

The delegation met first with UN officials Lisa Buttenheim, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus, and Espen Barth Eide, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, to get a deeper understanding of the history and current status of the peace process. This was followed by a presentation by Harry Tzimitras, director of the PRIO Cyprus Centre, and Olga Demetriou, senior research consultant at the PRIO Cyprus Centre working on gender issues.

The delegation also met with the Technical Committee on Gender Equality, and later various women’s groups and other civil society organizations. These meetings were an opportunity for both sides to exchange knowledge and advice when it comes to ensuring women’s participation and including gender issues in the Cyprus and other peace processes. Members of the delegation Elisabeth Slåttum and Hilde Salvesen, in particular, shared their views on the success and challenges of including women and a gender perspective in the Colombia peace process. They also shared knowledge about the Subcommittee on Gender, established in 2014, and a Women’s Summit in 2013, which has been particularly successful in mobilizing women’s organisations in Colombia.

The visit seemed to encourage the technical committee members and women’s organizations to continue working towards gender inclusion in the Cyprus process, despite the various challenges they face. Kristin Lund, Force Commander of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), said the visit was “interesting and meaningful for the women of Cyprus” and that “such exchanges were an important part of building support and pressure for the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325” on Women, Peace and Security. Hear more about the impact of the field visit in a radio interview available online with network member Elisabeth Slåttum.

The field visit was organised by UNFICYP in collaboration with PRIO and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF), which are the network’s Norwegian operational partners. The delegation included network members Elisabeth Slåttum, Norwegian special envoy to the peace process in the Philippines; Mona Juul, Norwegian Ambassador to the UK; Major General Kristin Lund, Force Commander of UNFICYP; Hilde Salvesen, senior adviser at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and member of the Norwegian facilitation team to the peace process in Colombia; Laura Mitchell, senior adviser at NOREF; and Julie Marie Hansen, research assistant at PRIO.

The Nordic Women Mediators network was formed in 2015 by the Nordic governments as a joint initiative to increase the number of women involved in international peace mediation efforts.