Inclusive Political Settlements: New Insights from Yemen's National Dialogue
Journal Article - PRISM Vol 6 No 1
Periods of exceptionally high social and political conflict present an opportunity for the fundamental remaking of a society. These conflicts are often resolved outside normal political institutions—whether through expanded police powers due to the declaration of a state of emergency, outright military victory in a civil war, the collapse of the old political order, or through the renegotiation of the political order by peace agreement, a political transition, or both. Since the 1990s, negotiated settlements have become important vehicles to renegotiate the social contract of countries.
More recently, negotiation processes that provide for the inclusion of additional actors (e.g., civil society, political hardliners, women’s groups, religious organizations, etc.) aside from the primary political—often armed—parties have become more common. National Dialogues (sometimes called National Conferences) are a highly inclusive negotiation format, involving large segments of civil society, politicians, and experts, and are usually convened in order to negotiate major political reforms or peace in complex and fragmented conflict environments, or to draft a new constitution.
The objective of this article is to analyze the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference for a New Yemen held between 2013 and 2014. The article begins with a summary of the theory and practice of inclusive negotiations. We then describe briefly the context and process of the Yemeni National Dialogue Conference (NDC), including the challenges and successes of the process. Finally, we analyze these challenges and success factors with reference to the findings of the “Broadening Participation” project at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.