In his interview, Ambassador Djinnit recalls the ordeals of his childhood under colonial rule in Algeria and explains that his first-hand experience of conflict and the trauma he experienced in his childhood and the injustice of colonial rule shaped him into becoming a lifetime mediator. He narrates his experience in the first mediation process that he was a part of, as an official of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in the Comoros in 1995, where the former President of Comoros mistook him for a French intelligence agent. This was during his mission to restore democracy on the islands following a dramatic coup. Other mediation experiences he shares include the coup d’état in Guinea in 2005, which was his first engagement as a UN Official, and in April 2015 after the now late Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza had sought a disputed third term of presidency. Ambassador Djinnit advises that the best approach to mediation is having tenacity and not allowing external influence to exacerbate conflicts. He emphasises the importance of women in mediation and that they should not be inhibited by the omnipresence of men in the political and development spheres of society because the African continent has no future without the full contribution and involvement of women.
Ambassador Said Djinnit has served as the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region of Africa from September 2014 to March 2019 and as the Special Representative of the Secretary General for West Africa from April 2008 to September 2014, where he was involved in conflict prevention and mediation efforts in various West African and Great Lakes region countries, including as the Facilitator of the inter-Guinean dialogue in 2013, which put an end to a political crisis between the government and the opposition which had serious incidents of violence.
The Oslo Forum is a series of retreats for international conflict mediators, high-level decision-makers, and other peace process actors to reflect on current mediation practice, collaborate across institutional and conceptual divides and advance negotiations in a discreet and informal space. Its podcast platform, the Mediator’s Studio, gives listeners a glimpse into the normally hidden world of peace diplomacy through podcasts of first-hand experiences shared by mediators, armed groups and governments on what it takes to end wars.