KAICIID Participates in Conference on Non-Formal Dialogue Processes and National Dialogues

16 November 2015

Localised formal and informal dialogues are key to resilient, sustainable reconciliation and peacebuilding in areas of conflict. Local religious and traditional actors play a crucial role in these dialogues, as their local knowledge, experience and moral authority are vital for successful national and non-formal dialogues. They are often in need of support from other active practitioners who can share knowledge, guide them in exploring methodologies and best practices and collaboration.

KAICIID participated in the Second Conference on Non-Formal Dialogue Processes and National Dialogues: Experiences from countries in transition, hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in Helsinki, 16-18 November. Practitioners, religious and traditional leaders working in conflict regions met at the event to share and reflect on their experiences in National Dialogues and non-formal dialogue processes in fragile states and other areas affected by conflict. Together with the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, KAICIID Dialogue Centre is developing a support structure for the insider mediators, who work behind the scenes and use their influence and legitimacy to constructively alter the behavior and relationships of parties in conflict, to more efficiently conduct their peace work.

National Dialogues are formal extra-constitutional mechanisms to address specific issues and root causes of conflict when constitutional mechanisms have failed. They are a tool in the national peace processes and play a key role in rebuilding the social contract between societies and governments after crises, and are key to addressing and accommodating overlooked parties.

KAICIID was represented at the conference by Deputy Secretary General for External Relations, Alvaro Albacete, and Senior Advisor, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, who addressed the consortium of NGOs that included Finn Church Aid, the Crisis Management Initiative, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, Common Space Initiative and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers on the role and importance of inside mediators and their role in National Dialogue processes.

Both Albacete and Abu-Nimer participated in the panel “Religious and Traditional Actors as Insider Mediators in Non-Formal and National Dialogues” to present a summary of this KAICIID-supported study, conducted by the Berghof Foundation. In many conflict contexts around the world, traditional and religious/faith-based actors play a vital role as influential insider mediators. They facilitate formal and non-formal dialogue processes within and between conflict stakeholders across tracks, often effecting transformative outcomes.

“National dialogues are a key part of peacemaking and reconciliation, and inside mediators are essential to finding effective diplomatic solutions,” said Albacete, whose presentation focused on the Central African Republic. “Including overlooked and minority groups in National Dialogues is needed for sustainable peacebuilding.”

“There is a considerable value added by including religious and traditional actors in peace processes,” Abu-Nimer said. “Local knowledge and the authority of religious leaders is essential if we want to make headway in countering the misuse of religion globally.”

Practitioners engaged in peer-to-peer discussion of their experiences in numerous environments in varying stages of the peace processes, explored best practices and challenges and shared lessons in national dialogues in different contexts. Through comparative case studies, policy options and process design exploration, participants were able to network and to seek further guidance for the design and implementation of their national and sub-national dialogue processes. Discussions included case studies on Myanmar, Somalia, Tunisia, and Yemen specifically, while other countries such as the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, and Ukraine were highlighted in thematic workshops.

Participants also shared relevant tools and developed recommendations that can be utilised by stakeholders and practitioners while addressing the crosscutting theme of inclusion of women, youth, minorities and other often excluded groups into peace processes for more balanced, sustainable outcomes. Discussions also explored ways of strengthening the local and national ownership of peace processes and identifying channels for international support.