Research page

Broadening Participation in Track One Peace Negotiations

Project Coordinator: Thania Paffenholz
Principal Collaborator: Stephanie Perazzone



Research has shown that the participation of societal and political actors beyond the official warring parties increases the sustainability of peace agreements. However, there is a knowledge gap as to how such participation can be enhanced without reducing the effectiveness and viability of the negotiation process.
Whilst the number of outside actors involved in mediation processes has expanded since the end of the Cold War, their potential to contribute to a more sustainable and legitimate process remains under-estimated. The question at heart is no longer whether or not to open up the mediation process but rather how best to engage with the different actors during peace negotiations.

The project “Broadening Participation in Track One Peace Negotiations” built on previous work undertaken at the CCDP on civil society and peacebuilding (see, in particular, CCDP Working Paper 4 presenting the results of a comparative research project, an edited volume on civil society and peacebuilding as well as the CCDP project on the role of civil society during the consolidation phase of the current political transitions in the Middle East and North Africa).

Using a comparative case study approach and including an explicit gender component, the project built on existing insights by exploring different models of inclusion for civil society, political parties, and potential hardliners. A CCDP study completed in 2011 identified seven potential (and not mutually exclusive) models of inclusion, listed below in decreasing order of direct involvement of societal and political actors:

  1. Direct representation, either as additional delegations to the negotiations or as part of official delegations (e.g. Democratic Republic of Congo);

  2. Observer status, direct presence during the negotiations (e.g. Liberia);

  3. Official consultative forums, parallel to the official negotiations and endorsed by the mediators and negotiators (e.g. Guatemala; Afghanistan);

  4. Consultations, less formal consultations without official endorsement from all stakeholders (e.g. Kenya);

  5. Post-agreement mechanisms, such as the participation of civil society in implementation mechanisms (e.g. Liberia; Mindanao);

  6. High-level civil society initiatives, non-official facilitation initiatives like conflict resolution workshops with outside or seldom insider facilitators (e.g. Georgian-Abkhaz Schlaining Process);

  7. Public participation, involving the broader population via mass action, campaigns, referendums, public hearings, or opinion polls (e.g. Northern Ireland; Colombia).

  8. Public decision-making, referenda and other elective forms putting major political decisions to binding public vote (e.g. Northern Ireland, Cyrus).

  9. Mass action, campaigns, demonstration, street action, protests, and petitions (e.g. Sri Lanka, Nepal, Arab Spring).



The objective of this collaborative research and capacity building initiative was to make use of the advantages of broadened participation in peace negotiations while simultaneously strengthening the effectiveness of mediation as well as the sustainability of peace agreements by:

  1. Conducting research, establishing lessons learned, and identifying best practices with regard to models of effective inclusion;

  2. Creating awareness among mediation practitioners on why and how to broaden participation in mediation;

  3. Establishing guidance notes for mediation practitioners;

  4. Conducting capacity building for the United Nations, regional organisations, national governments, and civil society organisations with the aim of generating inclusion mechanisms; and

  5. Providing support and advice to on-going peace processes.



The initiative was conducted by CCDP’s Dr. Thania Paffenholz, in cooperation with Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey (Dr. Esra Çuhadar-Gürkaynak) and TUFTS University (Dr. Eileen Babbitt). Support was secured from the Governments of Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Finland, and Germany (Zivik/ifa) as well as from the Mediation Support Unit of the United Nations.