This rapid literature review collates evidence from academic and grey literature on support on inclusive peace processes. The review identified limited evidence based on robust evaluations,
there is, however, a wide range of reviews (principally case studies) of peace processes and national dialogues that have been collected and collated to distil lessons on what works and why.
These have predominantly been collated by organisations such as the Inclusive Peace and Transitions Initiative, Conciliation Resources and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Lesson learning has played an important role in advancing the way peace processes are designed, negotiated and implemented. Although no two conflicts are alike, there are a number of lessons and practices that authors suggest can be transferred from one context to another. Commentators highlight that when doing so it is important to understand the differences and similarities between conflicts and peace processes in order to draw pertinent lessons from those with similar dynamics.
A recurring theme in the literature is the belief that after periods of conflict, the design, negotiation and implementation of inclusive peace processes is a means of strengthening a society’s ability to avoid a relapse into armed violence. Central to this is the need for peace processes to be inclusive, this refers to both the inclusion of the main parties to the conflict, but also the inclusion of groups that have historically been excluded from peace processes e.g. civil society or women, etc. Key messages identified include:
1. Quality, not just quantity is important: When included actors were able to influence the quality of agreements, and/or the implementation of these issues, the rate of peace agreements being reached and implemented was higher.
2. Broader inclusion is important: Contrary to assumptions made by many mediators, broader inclusion is not thought to reduce the likelihood of reaching agreements. This is often associated with conflict parties and mediators pushing for broader inclusion to gain legitimacy and public buy-in.
3. It is important to consider the modalities of inclusion: Inclusion takes place through different modalities at the table but also prior to and in parallel to official negotiations, and
4. Implementation is key: Attention of the international community goes into the negotiation phase. However, many processes fail or gains of inclusive negotiations are lost during implementation. Inclusive post-agreement commissions such as monitoring bodies and constitution review commissions shape the implementation of agreements, thus their inclusive composition and proper functioning need preparation and monitoring.
5. Process design is important: How peace processes are designed is fundamental as it enables or constrains the ability of included actors to exercise influence. Whatever the inclusion modality, rules and procedures can negate the benefits of inclusion.
6. Power matters: Inclusive processes can challenge power structures, and resistance by powerful elites is to be expected. However, local civil society groups and the international community have been ill-prepared to handle elite resistance. Public buy-in for an agreement or constitution is also important and is influenced by the country’s political climate and the attitude of powerful actors. However, public buy-in can also be encouraged.