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Is Dialogue Enough to Achieve Peace? 

Editing Office - Geneva

“Elite Resistance” and Peace Agreement Implementation 

DPPA Politically Speaking

From Benin to Papua New Guinea, national dialogues have in recent years served to resolve crises and further the transition to peace. Military and political elites are important to effective peace processes, but they are also often responsible for their failure. Is greater inclusion of civil society, private sector, women, youth, and other groups the key to improving the chances of achieving durable peace?

Speaking at UN Headquarters on 2 April, Dr. Thania Paffenholz, Director of the Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative at the Graduate Institute Geneva, said that while most national dialogues result in agreements, few are successfully implemented. According to research from the Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative (IPTI) that she heads, the attitude and behavior of national elites was found to be the single most important factor influencing the chances of national dialogues and other forms of negotiations to reach and implement agreements. Politically Speaking asked Dr. Paffenholz about her recent research on elite resistance and inclusive implementation of peace agreements:

According to your research, most national dialogues reach agreement, but only half of such accords are implemented. Why is that? And if that is the case, are national dialogues the best instrument to secure inclusive processes and long-lasting peace?

Our previous research compares national dialogues around the world and shows that national dialogues can be a very interesting instrument to help countries on their pathway to sustaining peace. But as for every instrument it depends on the phase, type of conflict, and context if such a dialogue could have chances to contribute to sustaining peace. At the heart of today’s conflicts (be they armed conflicts or popular uprisings) often lies the political, economic or social exclusion of groups from political decision-making. Frequently, governments in power merely fail to communicate with their people. Hence, most conflicts of today cannot be resolved in a classical Track 1 mediation between two or more powerful groups, as reality in most cases is more complex, with more actors and levels involved. Hence, broader dialogues can be an interesting instrument. However, these Dialogues have only been successful when key elites have bought into the processes; when change-oriented actors in the countries keep the momentum going; and when structures and procedures of such dialogues were set up in a way that ensured genuine representation. 


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