Social, economic or political exclusion of large segments of society is known to be a key driver of intra-state wars. More inclusive polities and processes therefore are seen as a key element in transitions from violence to peace. Yet, what does such inclusivity entail? Who should be included in peace processes and political transitions, at what stage and to what end?
At some danger of becoming another “fuzzy buzzword”, our definition of inclusivity (or inclusiveness) sees it specifically as a high degree of access to various arenas of political decision-making or settlement. Examples include peace negotiations, national dialogues, constitution making, political settlements and the implementation of such settlements (political reforms, economic reforms, security sector reform, etc.). It hence encompasses all sectors of society, beyond the most powerful elites. It allows members of those sectors to participate (either directly or indirectly) in decision-making. It also ensures that their concerns are addressed by representatives of the state. However, in the practice of conflict transformation, peace negotiation and settlement implementation, inclusivity poses both a vision and dilemmas: How can actors involved balance diversity vs. complexity? Which are the “right” participants for inclusive processes and how can they be selected? How can time-consuming multi-actor negotiations be managed successfully under time pressure? Are there, finally, circumstances in which the principle of inclusivity is not desirable?
Berghof’s research and practical work has tackled these questions and dilemmas in the past years through various (research and practice) engagements and publications. Below, we give a glimpse into our findings and ongoing inquiry of inclusiveness for peacebuilding and conflict transformation.