Advocacy, Partnerships, and the United Nations. Member Spotlight: Erik Steinecker

Since 2010, Erik Steinecker has co-led the United Nations Multilateral Working Group (UNMWG) of Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI). He helps maintain the organization’s Special NGO Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN), which provides MBBI access to ECOSOC and other major UN conferences.  

With both a Master’s degree in International Law and the Settlement Disputes from the UN University of Peace in Costa Rica and a Law Degree from Seattle University, Erik is well versed in conflict resolution and has an interest in grievance mechanisms and dispute systems design. Additionally, Erik has interned with and conducted research for both the UN Department of Political Affairs and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Erik now works for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In this capacity, he was first an equal opportunity specialist, investigating and conciliating over 100 cases of alleged discrimination in housing. Erik now helps in the administration of the Fair Housing Assistance Program, which provides funding and support to state and local governments to aid in their enforcement of fair housing laws.

While living in Seattle, Erik also became a certified mediator through the Volunteers of America Dispute Resolution Center and has mediated community-based disputes as well as workplace disputes for various local and federal government agencies. Erik was first introduced mediation and MBBI after attending a mediation seminar by MBBI co-founder Ken Cloke in early 2008 and instantly fell in love with MBBI’s mission.

Fostering Partnerships with UN Programs

Following participation in MBBI’s Climate Change Policy Project’s COP-15 delegation in Copenhagen in 2009, Erik became inspired and wanted to explore other avenues within the UN umbrella that could benefit from. In 2009, the UN Secretary-General also issued its first ever comprehensive report on mediation, (S/2009/189) on enhancing mediation and its support activities, which specifically called on civil society to help the UN build its mediation capacity as an organization. The UNMWG was subsequently established initiated in 2010 to heed this call. 

Through these strides, Erik realized the importance of an avenue through which MBBI members could interact, discuss, and engage with the MSU and UN policymaking. MBBI received special consultative status with the ECOSOC in 2012, and the UNMWG has since been exploring potential avenues of collaboration as well as advocacy for the use of conflict resolution throughout the UN ecosystem.

As a leader of the UNMWG, he continues to invite members to attend and partake in UN conferences on behalf of MBB. Erik has helped organize MBBI’s delegates to various conferences throughout the years. This year, there will be 35 delegates representing MBBI at the UN annual Conference on the Status of Women (CSW63 ) beginning on March 11-22, 2019.

The UNMWG is also an active participant of the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Through its participation at HLPF, MBBI highlight the importance of SDG 16 – Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions – as it “aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies and provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.” In July 2019, the UNMWG will again send MBBI members to the UN to engage in discussions around this specific SDG.

For Emerging Peacebuilders

Erik has lived by the mantra all roads lead to Rome explaining that the experiences you gain will eventually lead you to your goals, even if you are not sure where you are going or even starting from. Worrying about the perfect job or the perfect opportunity and how it fits in your life’s tapestry limits your chances for growth. The skills you gain through any experience are immensely transferrable, which is especially true in the dynamic fields of mediation, peacebuilding, negotiation, coaching, and conciliation.

Appreciate the skills you are developing, not the title you have,” Erik encourages emerging and younger peacebuilders to remember as the journey is more important than the destination.

Article by Ben Lutz, MBBI Peace Synergist Writer.