Negotiations are one of the most important – and most challenging – aspects of peacebuilding. As Nelson Mandela once said (updating an old adage) – “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
Inclusive negotiations is a key strategy for the prevention and reduction of conflict, and also a crucial building block for ensuring peaceful and lasting political transition. The importance of including armed groups, nonstate actors, civil society groups and faith-based organizations in negotiations and national dialogue is gradually becoming a more prevalent concept in peacebuilding efforts.
A January report from the Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative noted several ways to achieve broader inclusion, including granting groups direct representation in negotiations, appointing them to the roles of impartial observers or consultants, involvement in issue-focused commissions and workshops, and soliciting their contributions to public decision-making and civic action.
However, current models of peace talks and political transitions often limit the scope of broader participation. While the international community has called for the inclusion of civil society and women representatives, the same cannot be said for other groups, such as armed factions and military actors.