Wednesday, 12 May 2021

New publication \ Lessons learnt from UN mediation in Afghanistan and Syria

Neither the UN-convened peace processes for Afghanistan between 1980 and 2004 nor for Syria since 2012 were able to achieve conflict transformation towards peace over the last forty respectively ten years. In this BICC Policy Brief, the authors make an in-depth analysis of these UN peace processes, present lessons learnt and name subsequent policy implications.

Photo: BICC\Katja Mielke

In BICC Policy Brief 3\2021 “Meaningful political participation-Lessons learnt from UN mediation in Afghanistan and Syria” the authors Esther Meininghaus and Katja Mielke argue that in both processes, the ability of peace process participants who come from Afghanistan and Syria to politically participate in their respective process was and is severely limited, thus hindering the prospects of successful conflict transformation. By political participation, the BICC researchers mean that peace process participants not only attend negotiations (“are being included”) but are in a position to (co-) determine who is negotiating the agreement (incl. which representation mechanism is adequate), what the format of peacemaking (incl. methods of consultation) is, and what is negotiated (agenda-setting). The authors argue that ‘meaningful political participation’ thus understood opens new pathways towards more sustainable peace. This would contribute to opening a new pathway towards more sustainable peace processes, also beyond the Syrian and Afghan cases.

Against this background, the authors identify the following policy implications:

\       Prioritising representativeness over mere inclusion in peace negotiations and rendering selection criteria transparent strengthens their legitimacy.

\       Peace process organisers should take the whole spectrum of societal interests into account.

\       Enabling political participation requires that the participants themselves set the format and agenda for negotiations

\       Prioritising participation helps avoid common omissions in peace agreements.