Key Findings from IPTI's Input to the UN-World Bank Flagship Study on the Prevention of Violent Conflict
25 September 2017
© U.S. Institute of Peace. Civil Society Workshops, Afghanistan.
The UN-World Bank Study "Pathways for Peace - Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict" has been launched at the General Assembly in New York on 21 September by the UN Secretary General and the President of the World Bank. The full report will be available in January 2018. IPTI contributed a thematic paper to the study, focusing on the link between broader inclusion and violence prevention. We are glad to see that inclusion features prominently in the study.
IPTI’s analysis, which will be published in a full report in November, explored when, how, and under what conditions the inclusion of a broad range of actors in peace negotiations and political transitions contributes to the prevention of violence and to sustained peace. Our comparative study draws on more than 40 in-depth qualitative case studies of inclusive peace and transition processes. We found significant potential for inclusion to prevent violent conflicts, albeit under varying conditions. Below are some of our key findings:
Inclusion can prevent or reduce violence during popular protests
Inclusion can prevent or reduce violence during political transitions characterized by popular protests and armed violence. When governments responded to protest-related violence through inclusive negotiation formats to jointly discuss the country’s future, grievances voiced on the street were transferred into formal processes. This helped to prevent or reduce violence.
During armed conflicts, relatively exclusive negotiations can initially lead to reduction of violence
During armed conflicts, violence can initially be reduced through negotiation formats that involve only the main armed factions. However, a reduction of violence in the short-term did not guarantee sustainable peace in the long-term. For maintaining reduced levels of violence, the inclusion of actors beyond the principle conflict parties has played a critical supportive role.
Inclusive political transitions contribute to sustained peace
Inclusion has contributed to peaceful transition processes in two main ways. Firstly, through Inclusive Commissions mandated to monitor or reduce violence. Secondly, through formalized bodies that address the causes of violent conflict by implementing comprehensive political reform processes. Inclusion mattered most when the implementing bodies addressed grievances (e.g. political or economic inequality), thus aiming to resolve violence through building inclusive institutions.
The representativeness and independence of included actors matters
The representativeness and independence of included actors influence the degree to which inclusive bodies can prevent and reduce violence. If all stakeholders in a conflict are represented, causes of conflict are more likely to be addressed and levels of violence reduced in a sustainable manner. The independence of included actors from the main conflict parties also affects whether inclusion leads to successful prevention.
A set of context factors determines the effectiveness of inclusion
Domestic, regional and international factors either support or constrain the effectiveness of inclusion in preventing violence. Such factors include the role and behavior of elites, hardliners, regional powers, women’s influence in negotiations, as well as international diplomacy and technical assistance.