There is a widespread acknowledgement of the importance of civil society engagement in peace processes (Inclusive Security, 2013; Peace Direct, 2019). This is reflected in the wide range of interventions being carried out by various donors to support such engagement.
This review looks at the effectiveness of interventions specifically aimed at supporting civil society groups to participate in peace processes. Unfortunately, a number of major challenges were faced. One, donor support for civil society in peacebuilding situations can take many different forms (e.g. promoting social cohesion, reconciliation, community-level mediation, and so on) – this review found no interventions explicitly providing support for civil society groups to participate in peace processes. Two, interventions targeting civil society are often one/a few components in a far broader project or programme. Three, there is a dearth of evaluations of such interventions. These constraints make it very difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of these interventions and the factors driving success.
The review focused on three contexts: Nepal, Yemen and Libya. These were chosen because of the parallels between them and South Sudan: all have/are coming out of violent conflict; there is
heavy international involvement and support for peace processes, and the challenge in all is to bring about sustained peace. Because no intervention was found explicitly referring to donor
support for civil society participation in peace processes, the review takes a broader perspective and looks at donor interventions targeting civil society and aimed at peacebuilding in those
Key findings of the review in the three contexts are as follows:
Nepal – A number of donor countries have supported interventions targeting civil society in the context of the Nepal peace process. Interventions were largely found to have been effective in
promoting an inclusive peace. A number of success factors could be identified across the evaluations reviewed: good ability to pick the right partners for on-ground implementation; a high degree of gender sensitivity; building relationships with local partners based on mutual trust and respect; allowing time for results to be seen; ensuring participatory, bottom-up planning; and taking a multi-pronged approach.
Yemen – A number of the interventions identified in Yemen are still ongoing, and no evaluations were found. The Enhancing Women’s Roles in Peace and Security in Yemen project was carried
out by Saferworld in partnership with Yemeni organizations. An evaluation report noted that women-led initiatives need institutional support and direct financial support.
Libya – A Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) country programme includes the promotion of women’s economic empowerment through political participation and support for civil society. No evaluation report was found for the programme.
As noted above, given the constraints, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions. This review perhaps most clearly points to the need for more evaluations of donor interventions to support
civil society, and specifically to support civil society participation in peace processes.
The review largely drew on programme documents from international development organizations and civil society groups. The literature included a large number of interventions geared at
promoting women’s participation in peace processes but this review found nothing on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.