Online Consultation: "Civil Society & Inclusive Peace - A Reality Check"
10 October 2017
© Keystone. Kenyan women gather during a multi-faith demonstration calling for peace outside Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, 25 October 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis).
From 27 February to 1 March 2018, the Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative (IPTI) joined forces with Peace Direct and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) to host a 3-day online consultation that aimed to explore diverse perspectives on the concrete challenges, opportunities and support mechanisms that civil society faces in contributing to inclusive peace. The consultation brought together civil society practitioners and researchers from around the world, kicking off a year-long learning exchange as part of the Impact Local Peace project.
Let’s continue the conversation!
While we are still processing the rich content that came out of the consultation, we will be sharing some highlights on social media to continue the conversation. We are therefore sharing here some of the background information and reflection pieces and would welcome further comments and reflections in response. Look out for #RealityCheck on the IPTI, Peace Insight and GPPAC channels on Twitter and Facebook!
Why a Reality Check?
The latest global policies uphold civil society as central to broadening participation in peace processes and contributing to inclusive societies. But how does this translate in practise? The political landscape is shifting, conflicts are increasing, and the operational space for civil society actors is shrinking. Meanwhile, civil society has made huge strides in influencing policies on behalf of diverse interest groups, but it must not be forgotten that the civil society arena itself is a reflection of local and global power dynamics. Strategies for inclusive peacebuilding must take these realities into account, but do they?
We are calling for a reality check on the assumptions, strategies, and tools that propose to deliver on inclusive peace. We would like to hear the stories of those working to address these challenges and dilemmas in their own contexts, and find out how practitioners’ experiences, analysis and research can be brought together to support relevant and effective civil society strategies.
Topics of discussion
Day 1: Whose inclusion? Unpacking the challenges.
Inclusion is trending! At least in global policy. The UN-World Bank report Pathways for Peace has gathered evidence on the need to link participation and inclusion to peacebuilding and conflict prevention strategies. Sustainable Development Goal 16 explicitly refers to “just, peaceful and inclusive societies.” The UN General Assembly and Security Council have unanimously adopted resolutions on Sustaining Peace, characterizing peacebuilding as a continuous, collective effort to address root causes of conflict. According to this global policy agenda, peace is the shared responsibility of a diverse range of national stakeholders. It is hard to imagine this diversity without the active role of civil society. But what does the policy momentum for inclusion mean in practice - and are we all talking about the same things? How far are the expectations around civil society and the inclusion agenda linked to realities and challenges on the ground? This first day invited participants to share how they related to the idea of inclusive peace, where they situated yourselves within a peace process, and to explore what related barriers and dilemmas civil society actors face in their work.
Reflection I: Civil society and inclusive peace: A reality check, by Thania Paffenholz (Download pdf)
Reflection II: What civil society restrictions can teach us about inclusion, by Hannah Tsadik (Download pdf)
- "Inclusion": what is it?
- Challenges in the operational context
- Inclusive civil society?
Day 2: Civil society strategies - Business as usual?
Civil society practitioners and activists have long responded to their operational context and challenges in diverse ways. And years of evaluation practice and peace studies are building a growing body of knowledge about theories of change and overall impact of civil society contributions on peace. Comparative research initiatives have analyzed civil society in different contexts and phases of conflict. From this is emerging an adaptive peacebuilding approach, which proposes that peacebuilding must embrace uncertainty, learn to work with complexity, and focus on locally owned processes.
But how does it all add up in practice? Have we learned anything new about strategies and impact for inclusive peace?
Day 2 focused on the civil society strategies that have emerged in response to the challenges discussed. It aimed to identify options and opportunities for civil society impact in the face of changing political landscapes.
Reflection III: Challenges to Peacebuilding and Adjustments to Strategies in the Philippines Under the Duterte Administration, by Marc Batac (Download pdf)
- Civil society strategies - what have we learned?
- Adaptive strategies
- Collective impact
Day 3: Getting to strategy - joint learning and knowledge transfer
On Day 3 we discussed support mechanisms – the processes, tools, and relationships – that can support the development of effective, locally-owned civil society strategies. Because the issue of relationships and partnership dynamics between “insiders” and “outsiders” came up in prior discussion, a thread was added inviting local peacebuilders to reflect on what it is like to be on the receiving end of capacity building support in their experience.
This part of the consultation will directly inform the next steps of the Impact Local Peace project, which develop and test the support mechanisms and tools IPTI can offer civil society.
Reflection IV: How can the use of knowledge improve our actions?, by Thania Paffenholz (Download pdf)
Reflection V: A network approach to developing tools, by Gabriella Vogelaar (Download pdf)
- Strategy & Learning
- Experiences and strategy tools - Mapping the field
- Constructive support for local civil society
As an immediate next step, we will follow up with all with a short summary report of the discussion. We will also be exploring whether we can develop a more complete report based on the learnings from a series of consultations on this topic.
The broader conclusions and insights drawn from the consultation will also help guide how IPTI develops and tests its support mechanisms and tools for civil society as part of the Impact Local Peace project. The Peace Insight platform will continue to be used as a consultation channel for this endeavor. For any questions on the project please contact Jenny Aulin, Civil Society Program Manager at IPTI: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our sincere thanks to all participants!
Research Project - Civil Society and Peacebuilding
The Civil Society and Peacebuilding research project investigated whether, how, when, and under what circumstances civil society can fulfill a peace supporting role. It analyzed in thirteen in-depth qualitative country case studies, the performance of civil society with regards to seven peacebuilding functions in four phases of conflict and peace processes.
Role of civil society in peace and transition processes
How can different civil society actors make effective contributions to peace and transition processes, in which phases and under what conditions?