Daring to differ? Strategies of inclusion in peacemaking

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Hirblinger and Landau (2020) - Daring to differ

Open framings: Voices, stakeholders, and civil society
The UN Guidance for Effective Mediation (2012), the UN’s cornerstone document on mediation, defines ‘inclusivity’ as referring to the extent and manner in which the views and needs of conflict parties and other stakeholders are represented and integrated into the process and outcome of a mediation effort (MSU, 2012: 11). The emphasis is on inclusion beyond the conflict parties, and the argument grounded in inclusion as a path to a broad-based buy-in to peace. The guidance stresses that it cannot be assumed that conflict parties have legitimacy with, or represent, the wider public mediation efforts limited to the main conflict parties may thus create perverse incentives for violence, while civil society actors can increase the legitimacy of a peace process (MSU, 2012: 11).

Hirblinger and Landau
References to inclusion with the aim of increasing the legitimacy of peace processes predominantly employ open framings, for instance when reference is made to the participation of stakeholders, voices or perspectives. References to civil society inclusion are often grounded in arguments about strengthening a peace process’s legitimacy (UNSG, 2012: 25–26), or local ownership (UNSG, 2012: 50), as a means of including a variety of perspectives (UNSG, 2012: 48), ensuring that grievances are addressed (UNSG, 2012: 101), or exerting influence on conflict parties (UNSC, 2014: 6). Alongside civil society, the term stakeholders is also dominant. The
UNSG report on Strengthening the Role of Mediation, for instance, makes several references to stakeholder inclusion, arguing that it creates mechanisms to include all perspectives in the process (UNSG, 2012: 20), and for cultivating and exercising ownership (UNSG, 2012: 50). Interestingly, references to stakeholders are largely absent from UNSC and UNGA resolutions. References to stakeholders are much more pronounced in mediation guidance documents, which establish a link between stakeholder inclusion and more sustainable and legitimate processes based on national or local ownership (MSN, b MSU, 2012: 12; UNDPA and UNEP, 2015: 10), establishing broader buy-in (UNDPA and UNEP, 2015: 11), creating room fora diversity of ideas
(MSN, b 77), including all or different perspectives (MSU, 2012: 4, 10), and ensuring a greater likelihood of conflict causes being addressed (UNDPA and UNEP, 2015: 6). Open terminology that refers to the need for broad-based inclusion of stakeholders, voices and perspectives is thus mainly based on instrumental arguments, which claim that broad-based inclusion will increase the legitimacy of the process and will lead to more sustainable results. However, because open framings brush over difference, they do not help to answer the question of who, in particular, needs to be included in order to achieve a peaceful settlement of conflict.
Closed framings: Women, youth and religious actors
The dominant framing across all document types, however, are closed framings, and, within this, specifically references to women. This is unsurprising given the number of UNSC resolutions that have been adopted in the past two decades as part of the UN’s WPS agenda, which has been accompanied by significant international advocacy efforts to promote women’s inclusion in peacemaking
(de Almagro, 2018; True and Wiener, 2019). Our interviews with practitioners similarly suggest a widespread equation of inclusion with the inclusion of women among mediation professionals. The most well-known resolution on women’s inclusion, UNSC resolution 1325, establishes a relationship between the maintenance and promotion of international peace security and the protection and full participation of women and girls (UNSC, 2000). Based on the claim that civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict, the resolution suggests a range of measures aimed at the increased participation of women in conflict prevention, management and resolution. Women are thus conceived as victims, defined in opposition to those parties in conflict that commit gender-based violence. The resolution also explicitly stresses the special needs of women and calls on all parties to armed conflict to protect women and girls from gender-based violence. Rather than having an empowering effect, the essentializing WPS discourse places women in a passive position they remain victims, not adversaries. A strong emphasis on women’s participation is also visible in reports by the UNSG. The Strengthening the Role of Mediation (2012) report discusses UN-led mediation activities, and documents how mediators have aimed to include women therein, for example through the employment of gender advisors (UNSG, 2012: 33), the provision of funds to support women’s participation in peace panels and consultations with women (UNSG, 2012: 122). These efforts are built on the assumption that women are required in order to address the gendered dimensions of conflict, as women and gender expertise are almost always mentioned jointly without differentiation.


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