National dialogues as inclusion mechanisms for political transitions. By Anne Zachariassen, Thania Paffenholz, Esra Çuhadar, and Nick Ross - PDF

National dialogues as inclusion mechanisms for political transitions By Anne Zachariassen, Thania Paffenholz, Esra Çuhadar, and Nick Ross Paper presented at Transforming Intractable Conflicts: Restructuring

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National dialogues as inclusion mechanisms for political transitions By Anne Zachariassen, Thania Paffenholz, Esra Çuhadar, and Nick Ross Paper presented at Transforming Intractable Conflicts: Restructuring and Reframing Syracuse University, Syracuse September Draft please do not cite-- Introduction From Afghanistan to Mexico, and from Togo to Tunisia, National Dialogues are increasingly regarded as a promising avenue for mastering political crises by organizing inclusive negotiations on a national scale. National Dialogues have received great attention from the UN and other actors involved in peace negotiations, who increasingly advocate for their establishment. Despite the demand from policy practitioners, there is as yet no common understanding of the features that distinguish National Dialogues from other multistakeholder negotiation formats. The objective of this paper is to analyze National Dialogues as one form of multistakeholder negotiations, in order to expand our existing knowledge and sharpen theoretical understanding of the phenomenon. The paper addresses both practitioner and academic audiences, by contributing to central debates at the heart of dominant policy discourses and mediation research agendas. Following a brief introduction to the research this paper builds on, national dialogues will be conceptualized in relation to other similar negotiation formats and results on the comparative study of national dialogues will be presented. This paper draws on 20 case studies of National Dialogues that are part of the Broadening Participation in Political Negotiations and Implementation 1 research project, conducted at the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) under the lead of Dr. Thania Paffenholz. In a comparative research design, applying both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, the project analyzed 40 cases of broader inclusion in political negotiations. This larger research project included a sample of 24 inclusive Track 1 negotiations, which were then narrowed down to 20 cases of National Dialogues from 16 different countries. The study of these 20 National Dialogue cases was pursued with the two goals. The first was to expand and substantiate our knowledge of National Dialogues by analyzing empirical characteristics; the second was to analyze the factors that have enabled or constrained the National Dialogues from achieving sustainable 1 For a summary of the project s overall research findings for all actors see: 20participation.pdf ; see more generally: 2 outcomes during the negotiation process and the post-negotiation phase of agreement implementation. National dialogues as inclusive negotiations: A panacea for intractability? One of the most disturbing statistics from recent peace research is that about 25% of wars that end in a negotiated settlement relapse into violence within five years (Ricigliano, 202: 5). Furthermore, Sambanis and Doyle conclude that between 1945 and 1997, only 43% (in lenient definition of peace) or worse 35% (in strict definition of peace) of the peacebuilding initiatives were succesful. Ricigliano, like many other scholars, thus conclude that the challenge is not getting an agreement done, but rather getting agreements implemeted partially or fully in a sustainable manner (2012: 5). Non-sustainable, failed peace agreements generate intractability, sometimes at the same level of violence, other times taking the conflict to a higher level of violence than before such as in Rwanda and Angola. In the broader participation in peace negotiations project, we have concluded that quality inclusion increases the chances of sustainability of a peace agreement. Quality inclusion requires a genuine effort to reach a quality peace agreement, which addresses the root causes of the conflict. In other words, if the new agreement is likely to transform the extractive exclusionist political and economic system into an inclusive one, as argued by Acemoglu and Robinson in their influential work (2013), then it has a better chance for establishing sustainable peace. Exclusion of social groups from political, economic, and social institutions and decision-making is one of the principal reasons why groups often resort to collective action, often in the form of violence and protest (Gurr 2015; Acemoglu and Robinson 2013). On the contrary, inclusive negotiations and political transition processes consisting of relevant stakeholders, such as civil society, women, diverse political parties, minorities, and other relevant armed groups is, therefore, crucial to make war-to-peace and political transitions more sustainable (Nilsson 2012). Among the policymakers especially for those in 3 international organizations like the UN, in recent years, there has been growing sensitivity and interest in making peace processes more inclusive. Often, inclusion is only mandated for specific groups, such as women. Despite these policy claims for broader inclusion, policy makers and international donors are still struggling to respond adequately to calls for greater inclusion. One major reason is lack of adequate empirical research examining the conditions in which inclusion leads to successful outcomes. Although researchers (Chuffrin and Saunders, 1993; Fisher, 1997; Saunders, 1999; Barnes, 2002/2005; Hemmer et al., 2006; Bell and O Rourke, 2007; Wanis-St. John and Kew, 2008; Lanz, 2011; Nilsson, 2012) have argued for the benefits of inclusion, mediators and negotiators have tended to favor the exclusion of civil society and other groups from peace negotiations, often either for the sake of not complicating the negotiations by multiplying the number of parties at the table, or for various self-enhancing political interests. However, as far as the public interest or the interest of the peace process is concerned, inclusion is essential. Nilsson found, in a large-n study of peace negotiations, that the involvement of civil society has made peace agreements more durable (Nilsson, 2012). Contrary to what many practitioners claim, she also found that including civil society actors is in fact not uncommon one third of the peace accords that she assessed had at least some kind of civil society involvement. Moreover, she found that peace negotiations involving civil society participation were also more likely to include the participation of various political parties. Out of the eighty-three peace agreements she examined, twenty-eight included civil society participation, and twenty-two also included one or more political parties. She concluded that civil society inclusion does have a positive effect on the sustainability of post-settlement peace. At the same time, she acknowledged that her statistical analysis did not capture much about the context or process of inclusion such as the nature of involved actors, or the process through which they were included (e.g. inclusion models). It is this gap we aimed to address with the broader participation study especially focusing on mechanisms of inclusion. We analyze the influence of inclusion on negotiation outcomes as well as the conditions under which broader inclusion leads to successful outcomes. The Broader Participation project conducted from 2011 to 2015 thus turned the focus of 4 debate away from the inclusion-exclusion dichotomy that characterized research and policy debates, addressing instead how and under what circumstances inclusion can work effectively. 2 As part of this research, national dialogues were identified as one common format of inclusion. This paper particularly focuses on this mechanism. National Dialogues in History: a Brief Overview While recent instances of National Dialogues such as in Yemen ( ) and Tunisia ( ) have clearly caught the attention of the international mediation and peacebuilding community, the phenomenon itself is not new. National Dialogues have been held throughout modern history and across the world under different names and in various contexts. Already the American constitution-making process from 1787 was arguably an example of a National Dialogue, as it included representatives of all states in a dialogue on the future direction of the nation. 3 Inclusive multiparty negotiations on a national scale which rearrange the country s political constitution were also frequent during the period of decolonization, when newly independent states in the Global South established representative constituent assemblies which brought together experts, politicians and key civil society groups to discuss and develop plans for the political future on a consensual basis. 4 Political reforms, transition processes, and the drafting of new constitutions in Southern Europe (e.g. Portugal, Spain) and in South East Asia (e.g. South Korea, the Philippines) in the 1970s and 1980s were in some instances also facilitated by National Dialogues. In Spain, the transition to democracy after Franco s fascist regime mainly revolved around the establishment of a new democratic constitutional order. The newly elected Parliament was mandated to select a Commission to draft the new constitution, which was then approved by the Parliament and put to the vote in a referendum. Even 2 For a summary of the project s overall research findings see: 20participation.pdf ; see more generally: 3 (Balde, 2011; Arendt, 1963) 4 (Santiso & Lund, 1998) 5 though only political parties participated, they represented the electorate after the first free and fair elections since the process was perceived as being genuinely representative by most parts of the Spanish society. 5 In the Philippine constitution-making process in 1986, delegates were appointed by the new president to guarantee a broad representation of various political views and social interests. The delegates included leftist, nationalists, former Supreme Court Justices, representatives of the Catholic Church of the Philippines, and five seats reserved to supporters of the former authoritarian regime of President Ferdinand Marcos ( ). Moreover, the Commission held country-wide local consultations to include the public. The new constitution was passed after a referendum in 1987 in which 89 per cent of the electorate voted and 77 per cent of them voted in favor of adopting the new constitution. 6 Toward the end of the 1980s, National Dialogues facilitated political reforms in the Socialist Republics in Central Europe. Often under the name of Round Table Negotiations, the Dialogues initiated peaceful political and economic transitions in these countries (with the exception of Romania). 7 The first Round Table Negotiations were set up in Poland between the Communist Party and the opposition, which mainly comprised unions and the Catholic Church. This set a precedent for many other Central European countries, which consequently initiated processes of democratization in which political and societal actors played an important role. 8 In the early 1990s, National Dialogues were a popular format for political processes initiated in several African countries. There, the inclusive constitution-making negotiations often took the name of so-called National Conferences and had the mandate to facilitate peaceful and sustainable political reform processes. The first National Conference took place in Benin in 1990 and was established to ease off the pressure generated by a deep economic crisis and a parallel erosion of political legitimacy. Initially supposed to be consultative, the Conference quickly declared itself sovereign and stripped President 5 (Benomar, 2004) 6 (Croissant, 2014) 7 (Jankauskas & Gudžinskas, 2008; Carothers, 2002; O Donnell C. a., 1986) 8 (Colomer & Pascual, 1994) 6 Kérékou off most of his power. 9 Its official name, la Conférence Nationale des forces vives de la Nation (The National Conference of Vital Elements of the Nation) emphasizes its broad inclusion of civil society (mostly teachers, students and civil servants) as well as its conception as a society-mobilizing event. With the successful transition of Benin, the use of National Dialogues to facilitate political reforms, new constitutions, and democratizations spread throughout the region. In the following months and years, Gabon organized its own conference (1990), followed by Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) (1991), Togo (1991), Mali (1991), Niger (1991), Zaire (the Democratic Republic of Congo) (1992), and Chad (1993). 10 In the mid-1990s, political reforms, constitution-making processes, and peacemaking processes also took place in South-East Asia and Latin America. For instance, the Thai Constitutional Drafting Assembly was composed of both representatives of provincial assemblies and a diversity of experts. Political parties were excluded from the process under the assumption that the included groups already represented a broad range of political opinions and societal interests. 11 In Latin America, the peace process in Chiapas (Mexico) was facilitated by a National Dialogue, which took place between 1995 and The Dialogue included a broad range of societal actors, such as intellectuals, activists, representatives of social, cultural, and indigenous organizations, members of the newly formed Revolutionary Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities, and indigenous women. In the last 15 years, National Dialogues have continued to facilitate peace-making processes, political reforms and/or constitution-making processes across the globe from Somalia (2000, ) and Afghanistan (2002, ), and Nepal ( ) 12 to Egypt (2011), Tunisia ( ), and Yemen ( ). Currently, a National Dialogue is under way in Myanmar (since 2014), Sudan (since late 2015) and Burundi (since 2015). However, the two latter exclude important opposition parties. 9 (Nwajiaku, 1993) 10 (Balde, 2011) 11 (Croissant, 2014) 12 The case of Nepal is the first Constituent Assembly (from ) and not the second ( ), which reached an agreement. 7 In sum, this short historical overview shows that, even though under different labels, the concept and process have been used in different continents with varying names through the last 200 years. Conceptualizing National Dialogues: A glance at relevant theoretical literatures The emerging literature on contemporary national dialogues is still lacking theorizing as it focuses on observations stemming from a few case studies only. However, because National Dialogues aim at peace-making, political transitions, and/or constitutionmaking, theoretical perspectives dealing with each of these topics are pertinent to the notion of National Dialogues. The following strands of literature speak to the characteristics and dynamics of National Dialogues: 1) multi-stakeholder negotiations both taking place from a collaborative governance perspective regarding public policy disputes and dealing with peace negotiations; 2) democratization and political transition (transitology); and 3) peace-making and peacebuilding including reference to the recent debates on peace architecture, peace infrastructures, and local peace structures. This section gives a brief overview of how these different strands of literature relate to the concept of National Dialogue. First, although peculiar in their goal, with their nation-wide scope and other specific characteristics, National Dialogues in fact can be considered instances of multi-stakeholder negotiations, which differ from traditional bi- or multi-lateral negotiations in that they include societal, political, and economic actors other than the main negotiation parties and thereby allow larger constituency to participate in the process and influence its outcome. 13 The form of this inclusion may vary, however, from a gathering of all sub-clan representatives, as in various Somali processes (2000; ), to the classical democratic election of representatives, as in Northern Ireland (1998; 2006). The most common understanding of multi-stakeholder negotiations is that it describes processes 13 (Bisht, 2008) 8 which aim to bring together all stakeholders on a common platform of communication, decision-finding and decision-making on a particular issue. 14 In fact, this type of negotiation processes have long been applied in resolving conflicts among multiple stakeholders in public policy disputes at the state and national level such as involving land disputes and environmental conflicts. 15 The practice has largely evolved from the contemporary notion of public administration known as collaborative/participatory governance. 16 This new approach towards governance emerged due to the failures of representative democracy, as citizens asked for more control over conflicts and decisisons concerning their future, and the inadequacy of classical government in addressing these demands sufficiently. Therefore, the rise of participatory governance followed the movement in public management from top-down directing towards steering. 17 In this new understanding of governance, disputes concerning the public have been handled in a more consensual manner in order to enhance public participation, public involvement in decision-making, and civic engagement. The government s role is hence to manage complex networks of actors and relationships, and coordinate the skills and resources in order to create space for public deliberation, community problem-solving, and multi-stakeholder negotiations between parties. Because collaborative governance approach envisages the active involvement of citizens in governmental decision-making, in this sense it is a step towards deliberative democracy. 18 Collaborative governance relies on a number of different participatory dispute resolution processes, which are deliberative or consensual, as opposed to adversarial or adjudicative, such as negotiations with multiple stakeholders, public consultations, and consensus building. 19 Among these methods, according to proponents of multi-stakeholder negotiations, the advantage of including a large group of presumed stakeholders (public, private, or non-profit) in the negotiation process is that such inclusion allows the 14 (Bisht, 2008) 15 (Susskind, McKearnan, & Thoma, 1999) 16 Lisa Bingham, Lisa Bingham 2011: McLaverty, Peter 2011; Bingham 2011: Bingham, 2011; O Leary, R. and L. Bingham, 2007; Susskind, L., McKearnan, and J. Thomas-Larmer, negotiators to address a larger set of concerns and grievances and thereby also to foster a stronger consensus when reaching an agreement. Available empirical evidence confirms at least that agreements, which result from multi-stakeholder negotiations, are more likely to be implemented and endure than other types of negotiations. 20 Overall, consensus based multi-stakeholder negotiations revolved around the notions of dialogue in safe space, based on mutual gain, instead of adversarial and hierarchical policy-making that reolves around confrontation, adversarial debate, and political polarization. Even though this literature on collaborative governance and multi-stakeholder negotiations evolved with regard to public policy disputes, they are highly relevant to the context in which National Dialogues became popular. Just like the failings of representative democracy and demand for more active citizen involvement in public policy issues in democratic societies motivated and gave birth to participatory governance in general, and multi-stakeholder negotiations in particular, National Dialogues became popular in conflict-affected countries at a time when there is once again more demand from citizens, such as in the Arab Spring, to become actively involved in the political transition taking place in their societies and in the negotiation of the new mode of government and governance. Yet, one should also acknowledge that despite the similarities in the demands from citizens and the processes of multi-stakeholder negotiations, participatory governance approaches have largely evolved and been applied in public policy di
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