National Dialogue and PeaceTalks: Chad

Our Head of Peace Process Support, Alex Shoebridge shares the likely different scenarios to play out that have important implications, opportunities, and challenges in terms of inclusion following the announcement of Chad signing a deal with over 40 opposition parties to launch peace talks.

Chad is the latest example where a National Dialogue is set to take place in close proximity to peace talks; Ethiopia may soon follow. This thread sets out the key features and examples of these scenarios.

Other experiences from South Sudan, Myanmar, Yemen, and elsewhere point to a number of scenarios which can take place. Each of these scenarios also has important implications, opportunities, and challenges in terms of inclusion.

Scenario 1

Peace talks feed into National Dialogue, and reach concluding stages in the lead up to the ND, shaping the agenda, roadmap, and inclusion of certain groups. In Afghanistan, DRC, and Nepal, peace talks mandated inclusive #negotiations to shape political transition.

Scenario 2

Peace talks overlap with National Dialogue, and face delays or extensions for various reasons, prompting NDs to either take a parallel or sequenced approach. Here, those actors already “on board” move ahead on certain issues, while others are deferred. This is usually to allow for the inclusion of other actors, issues, or geographic areas to be engaged in the ND process. The ND in CAR evolved in this way, though due to a breakdown in peace talks the ND did not include all actors.

Scenario 3

Peace talks collapse, National Dialogue proceeds. This can result in the #agenda/issues of the talks being “transferred” onto the ND, or for others to be left out. NDs can then be instrumentalised to advance specific priorities at the expense of an inclusive process. The ND initiated by the EZLN in Mexico is one example of this dynamic, and the 2016 ND in South Sudan began on similar footing. In these cases, inclusion of diverse stakeholders was initially limited or compromised, but in some contexts, this did “open up” over time.

Scenario 4

National Dialogue collapses, peace talks continue. These typically include a small set of stakeholders addressing certain issues, not necessarily as broad as a ND. NDs can collapse for various reasons, including political recalculations amongst political/civic elite.

Often, they prefer to pursue their objectives in a smaller negotiation format. In South Africa, bilateral talks between the ANC and National Party helped enable broader talks. This is the opposite of Scenario 3, whereby a broad format is abandoned for a narrower process.

Scenario 5

National Dialogue collapses, peace talks collapse, conflict relapses. For various reasons, parties no longer see negotiation platforms as a way of achieving their objectives, shifting to military or security responses. This can lead to an increase in violence in the short-term, such as in South Africa following the collapse of CODESA II and prior to the MPNP process, or an extended period of violent conflict like in Yemen.

These scenarios are not mutually exclusive, and both National Dialogues and peace talks (and the contexts in which they are grounded) evolve over time. But as a number of countries move on the pathway towards peace and pursue both NDs and peace talks.

It’s worth keeping in mind the potential complementarities, contradictions, and permutations which may evolve over time, and what this means for the potential (or not) for inclusive processes and inclusive outcomes.


Photo: Oporty (FreePik Photos)