Daring to differ? Strategies of inclusion in peacemaking



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Hirblinger and Landau (2020) - Daring to differ

Inclusion to empower and protect
Inclusion is also advanced in order to empower and protect particular groups, based on the assumption that building peace requires strengthening the position of specific actors that have suffered in conflict, or who can be champions of peace. Their inclusion aims at protecting their rights, enhancing their political voice, or addressing previous harm. This rationale frames the included in closed terms, as specific groups with a common identity trait, such as gender, language or ethnicity and thus accentuates and fixes these. In relation to ethnic, linguistic or religious groups, scholars have argued for their inclusion in peace processes and in favour of provisions for group rights in peace agreements as crucial for conflict resolution (Reuter, 2012; Wise, 2018), building on broader debates about the politics of recognition (Taylor, 1994) and minority rights (Kymlicka, 1996). Critics have argued that these approaches overlook the nature of groups as mutable social formations, noting that measures aimed at empowerment can entrench identities and conflict cleavages Bose, Empowerment and protection have also been particularly prominent rationales in the context of the inclusion of women in peacemaking, as outlined in the UN’s Women, Peace and Security
(WPS) agenda. Here, too, scholars have highlighted the agenda’s implicit essentialization of women as both vulnerable and peaceful (Davies and True, 2019). However, essentialized framings can also be used to advance changes in the distribution of power in post-conflict contexts (Porter,
2007, 2013). As such, the case for pushing for the inclusion of groups with specific identity traits can be made by drawing on Spivak’s concept of strategic essentialism’, whereby differences within a group are strategically downplayed for the sake of an emancipatory political project
(Spivak, 1988). In fact, much of the women’s empowerment discourse has focused on vulnerabilities to sexual and gender-based violence. Women have been portrayed as victims of war in need of


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protection. The rationale for inclusion then is to counteract women’s vulnerability through increasing their role in peace processes (Väyrynen, 2010: 147). While the view of women as peaceful victims, often reproduced in arguments for their inclusion in peacemaking, has empowered women to mobilize politically, it also reaffirms traditional gender roles that marginalize women in political life (Aharoni, 2017: 311–312; see also Väyrynen, 2010), with possible disempowering effects Porter, 2007: 74). Efforts to use inclusion as a vehicle to empower and protect have thus marked specific differences through closed terms, in support of the particular struggles of essentialized groups.
Inclusion to transform relationships
Inclusion can be advanced to transform and rebuild relations between groups, as has been discussed in the conflict transformation literature (Lederach, 1997, 2005). The latter views conflict as a consequence of contradictions in the structure of society that can be transcended through a change in relationships. Inclusive processes thus aim to build a community in which the past division of winners versus losers, victims versus perpetrators, us and them are overcome however, without erasing or evading differences between people (Mani, 2005: 512) – highlighting that peace ultimately must make space for agonistic relationships. As captured in Galtung’s triangle of violence, this approach is interested in the interaction between direct, cultural and structural forms of violence (Chetail, 2009: 1). It also builds on development research and
‘dependency-thinking’, which advanced concepts of positive peace that focus on the material and social relationships between conflict stakeholders (Götschel, 2009: 92–93) and rejects fixed understandings of conflict party identities and interests. Instead, scholars highlight how interests depend on social relationships, arguing for peacebuilding to be responsive to the experiential and subjective realities shaping people’s perspectives and needs (Lederach, 1997: 24). Lederach’s integrated framework for peacebuilding considers the visible issue in the context of the wider
relationship among conflict parties, as well as the systems and subsystems in which these relationships are located. For instance, conflicts underpinned by a relationship of prejudice or bias should be analysed and tackled as part of a broader system of social structures that create and perpetuate racism (Lederach, 1997). This approach requires peacemakers to make sense of the web of relationships in which conflict occurs, before aiming at social change through rebuilding the social spaces that give people a sense of identity (Lederach, 2005). While not radically deconstructing actor categories, inclusion can nonetheless address cultures of domination and oppressive power structures, by working on culturally sanctioned forms of oppression, whether related to caste, ethnic identity, sexuality or ability (Francis, 2004: 7). The emphasis on relationality is chosen in order to facilitate a change of the social and cultural structures that underpin conflict. From this point of view, inclusion can only play a meaningful role in peace processes if practised in away that accounts for the relational constructedness of identity, and aims at the transformation of antagonistic into agonistic relationships.

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