In Oslo, Osinbajo, leaders promote world peace amid Ukraine, Sudan, Yemen war

Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, in the company of other leaders, speaks at the 20th Oslo Forum, held in Norway, on Wednesday, June 14, 2023. Photos: Tolani Alli

By Seyi Gesinde

Nigeria’s immediate past Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has joined over 100 prominent conflict mediators, high-level decision-makers and actors in peace processes in Oslo, Norway to reflect on mediation initiatives at a time of major shifts in global and regional power, for world peace.

The organisers of the Forum had brought in the former Vice President to the retreat marking the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Forum, where Osinbajo, a seasoned mediator, Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, teamed up with leaders from different world zones to address diplomatic developments in geopolitical hotspots, setting agenda for world peace, while featuring discussions on the war in Ukraine, Sudan, Yemen and other conflict areas, among other issues deliberated upon.

Osinbajo, who led a session on Day-2 of the event, as posted on his social media accounts, said he was “honoured to have participated in the Day-2 prestigious 2023 20th Oslo Forum, alongside esteemed colleagues and world leaders.”

As he moved for shaping a better future for conflicting nations and the world at large, the Law Professor expressed his gratitude to the organisers of the 29th Oslo Forum.

“Gratitude to the Oslo Forum and The Centre of Humanitarian Dialogue for organizing this remarkable event, providing a platform for constructive dialogue and collective problem-solving. Together, we are shaping a better future for our nations and the world,” Osinbajo said.

Among high-level participants who attended the event also include the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi; Foreign Minister of Colombia, Álvaro Leyva Durán; and Karim A.A. Khan KC, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The 20th anniversary of the Oslo Forum, which began on Wednesday, June 13 to 14, 2023, leads a series of retreats for international mediators and peacemakers, and it was co-hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD).

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According to organisers, “The two-day meeting also offers participants a discreet, informal setting to share perspectives and assess the state of mediation and peacemaking against a backdrop of rising geopolitical competition, increasing conflict and the growing impact of climate change, social media and other factors that fuel conflicts.”

“Now, 20 years on, the Oslo Forum remains as relevant as ever in times of growing uncertainty around the world. It is in our common interest to promote peaceful and stable societies and to limit the suffering caused by war,” Anniken Huitfeldt, Norway’s Foreign Minister, said.

“How to prevent, interrupt or end conflicts in a polarised world that is simultaneously under threat of climate change and riven by division is arguably the most important question of our time.

“Mediators are at the heart of this debate and ours is the job of persevering in reaching solutions, even if others believe there is no light to be found,” David Harland, HD’s Executive Director, said.

The event also had on its agenda sessions on how to ensure the voices of all stakeholders are heard and on ways to achieve sustainable peace often based on the hard-won deals born out of military exhaustion and pragmatism.

By its make-up, the closed-door discussions under the Chatham House Rule of non-attribution allow participants to speak openly and put forward ideas for sustainable solutions to conflicts.

Organisers said, “Over the past two decades, the Oslo Forum has gone through an extraordinary journey, from a modest gathering in 2003 to a leading global retreat in Norway, complemented by regional forums.

“It has served as a unique platform for constructive dialogue and the exchange of ideas among mediators and peacemakers, as well as key actors in some of the most complex and protracted conflicts around the world.”

The Oslo mission may be described as a good way to enter into the mainstream of activities for Nigeria’s Prof Osinbajo after he left office two weeks ago as the country’s second citizen, who was instrumental to many achievements of his administration, top of which was the National Social Investment Scheme (NSIP), known to be Africa’s largest social investment programme.

Then, for Osinbajo, who had mediated peace across conflicting areas in the country throughout his eight-year tenure, most significantly was quenching the fire of discord among militants and stakeholders in the formerly restive Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region, stepping up his game to further contribute to world peace is a laudable development.

With Osinbajo’s excellence as a public officer, the world can rest assured that in any engagement committed into his hands, he would deliver satisfactorily, most especially as he returns to Africa to lead a team of distinguished Commonwealth experts in observing the general elections in Sierra Leone on June 24, 2023.