The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers is a platform for a range of vital actors – from grassroots religious and traditional peacemaking actors to international NGOs and academic institutions. The aim is to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of peace- focused efforts through collaboratively supporting and strengthening the positive role of religious and traditional actors in peace and peacebuilding processes. The Network´s current secretariat Finn Church Aid has commissioned Berghof Foundation to undertake this baseline study to conceptualise these actors, their roles and mediation support needs.
Berghof´s conceptualisation of Tradition- and Faith-oriented Insider Mediators (TFIM) involves two different groups of actors:
1. Many TFIM may be identified from the legitimacy that they may derive traditionally and/or religiously.
- religious/spiritual leaders
- individuals/ representatives of religious institutions / CSOs
- indigenous leaders
- clan elders
- village chiefs
- traditional authorities
2. Other TFIM may derive legitimacy from their social status and strong community engagement. What is important is that they purposely (and perhaps strategically) employ elements from religion, indigeneity and tradition in their efforts.
- community leaders
- women´s groups
- specific government bodies or representatives
Both groups of TFIM are essentially influential in the sense that people are willing to listen to them and they are therefore potentially crucial agents for processes of constructive conflict transformation.
In early 2015, TFIM in six cases (Myanmar (Burma), Southern Thailand, Lebanon, Colombia, Kenya and Mali) were approached in order to learn about the premises and modalities of their work, the challenges and opportunities that they encounter, and the support that they could use. Additionally, through electronic communication and online surveys, knowledge from further network partners (and potential ones) would be included in the study.
To get a broader view, other stakeholders in the conflicts would be approached to understand their take on the role and support needs of TFIM. These could be the primary parties in the conflict, state actors, politicians, academics and organizations that facilitate the work of TFIM, e.g. civil society organisations, and other outsider mediators (if any).
Objective and outcomes
Against the backdrop of the existing knowledge on insider mediation, tradition-, religion- and faith-based local peacebuilding, and first-hand stories from TFIM in the different cases, this study will:
- accumulate knowledge on the characteristics, attributes and premises of the conflict transformation work of TFIM
- understand parallel, complementary or synergistic roles of TFIM in multi-stakeholder peace processes – e.g. when and why other actors see TFIM as the ‘best alternative’, or not
- reflect on how TFIM are (or potentially can be) situated in (existing or envisioned) infrastructures for peace - i4p
- identify generic lessons learnt and best practices of TFIM
- make useful assumptions about the support needs that TFIM could use to enhance their contribution to conflict transformation and sustainable peace
- suggest pilot projects or other forms of interventions in order to fill potential knowledge / support gaps.
For the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, the study would inform its evolving structure, resourcing decisions and programmatic focus. They could use the baseline data for developing pilot activities in selected cases to feasibly address TFIM´s needs.