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In what way can inclusion contribute to the quality and sustainability of peace agreements and political transitions? How can broader participation of diverse voices be organised to increase the effectiveness of negotiations? Which actors have been included in peace processes and with what kind of the results?
WILPF reflected on these and other questions at the launch of a research publication at the Graduate Institute in Geneva in November. The Center on Conflict, Development and Peacemaking launched its project on “Broadening participation in Track One peace negotiations.”
This comparative case study, based on 40 peace processes, presents the most extensive research to date on this topic.
Inclusion isn't just about thinking about the actors at the table. There are different ways to be inclusive at different stages of the process.
Don't worry if you didn't manage to attend the event in Geneva. We've got you covered! We hope this makes for some nice reading during this holiday period.
The panel presented a wide array of angles, obstacles, findings, and questions on what makes peace processes inclusive and effective.
What is the dilemma of inclusion, anyway?
Over time, greater inclusion in peace processes has become common within the international community. Inclusion is extremely important to gain legitimacy in the agreement and anchor the process among all actors in post conflict societies.
At the same time, practitioners often take a goal-oriented approach to inclusion based on what makes the process effective. It is often argued that negotiations for peace agreements can be more complicated with more actors at the table.
This is why it is so important to do research about the actual effects of inclusion at different stages of peace processes.
According to Dr. Thania Paffenholz, Senior Researcher and Project Coordinator at the Graduate Institute, inclusion isn't just about thinking about the actors at the table. Rather, there are different ways to be inclusive at different stages of the process.
What kind of inclusion can contribute to a sustainable peace?
The aim of the Center's research was to pin down what kind of inclusion best contributes to sustainable peace.
It found that “facade participation” for the sake of it isn't enough to create sustainable implementation. Rather, it has to be high quality participation with possibilities to influence.
The panellists found that influence, more than anything, makes the difference.
Influential, or effective, participation is made possible through a combination of strategies. In the study, nine models of participation were introduced. These ranged from direct participation at the negotiation table, to civil society initiatives and mass action with people on the street, to put pressure on parties to come to a peace agreement.
Ultimately, peace processes have to be pragmatic to adjust to the given context. It is important to do this by mapping and understanding the actors and their different identities.
What's WILPF got to do with sustainable peace processes?
WILPF was excited to participate in the discussion since our Integrated Approach focuses on similar themes to those presented in the Center's study. We underline the importance of looking at the root causes and context of conflict to be able to maintain deep peace. This cannot be done simply by bringing an exclusive selection of representatives to the metaphorical table. All sectors of society have to feel represented and feel that they have had influence for it to truly work.
Has the study gone far enough?
The study has significantly contributed to and underlines the importance of qualitative research in truly understanding peacebuilding situations.
Particularly interesting for WILPF was the finding that women are the most represented group in peacebuilding processes. The good news is that this means United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security has made a real impact!
The next step for WILPF is to turn these numbers into meaningful action by continuing to monitor peace processes and participation. WILPF will continue to work with the Graduate Institute to ensure that practitioners as much as possible use academic research contributions.