Civil society has become widely regarded as an important actor in peace processes and the international community has devoted substantial effort towards building and strengthening its role. Yet there has been little systematic, evidence-based research undertaken to support this assumption empirically. Consequently, policy-makers and practitioners have often lacked concrete knowledge about how, when, and under what circumstances civil society may or may not fulfill a peace-supporting role, i.e. contributing to reducing violence, ending armed conflict, and building sustainable peace thereafter.
The “Civil Society and Peacebuilding
” project (2006-2010) - led by Dr. Thania Paffenholz at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, with a team of 19 researchers from 16 institutions - addressed this knowledge gap. This project analyzed the performance of local civil society actors through a new analytical lens, i.e. with regard to seven peacebuilding functions civil society can potentially fulfill.