Dialogue and Mediation for Insiders in Bolivia

Our capacity-building work in Bolivia focuses on the experiences and requirements of indigenous organisations and community leaders. By enhancing their capacities in dialogue and mediation, we contribute to strengthening actors crucial to social change in Bolivia. To provide support in this area, the Berghof Foundation initiated a consortium with the Catholic University of San Pablo (Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo” – UCB) in Bolivia and the Centro Internacional de Toledo para la Paz (CITpax) in Spain.

Together, we have devised a capacity-building process for indigenous community leaders who discuss their own experiences, share examples of how conflict analysis opens certain opportunities and explore how mediation and dialogue do make a difference. This method changes community leaders’ individual approaches to conflict and sensitises their communities and organisations. It enables them to successfully act as internal facilitators or mediators on behalf of their organisations. Beyond the organisations themselves, documentations of the meetings and lessons learned are shared within Bolivia, within the Andean region and with institutions of the European Union.

“Me parece que debemos unir fuerzas para aprender del pasado violento y buscar otras formas de interactuar en el futuro” / “I believe we must unite forces to learn from the violent past and find new forms of interaction for the future”

- Tata Simon, CONAMAQ, Bolivia

Timeframe

2012 – 2014

Project Website

www.mediacionbolivia.net

Conflict Setting

Bolivia is deeply fragmented: opposing paradigms for the country’s political, social and economic development have led to deep divisions. At the same time, conflicts over natural resources and land rights touch on the fault lines of ethnicity and central versus regional power. Repeatedly, there have been politically motivated outbreaks of violence.

When Evo Morales and his Movement toward Socialism (MAS) came to power in 2006, the profound changes they initiated created further tensions. After the difficult process of drafting a constitution and negotiating autonomy and electoral legislation, MAS could still consolidate its majority in elections in 2009 and 2010. More challenges still lie ahead: to continue reforms in an inclusive way and agree on a legal framework for constitutional provisions, while respecting the rule-of-law.

Indigenous organisations have been crucial social and political actors in recent years: Not only because most were initially members to or supporters of MAS, but also because after becoming disenchanted by the way the MAS handled their interests, these organisations are more and more insistently demanding that their voices be heard.

Approach

The experiences indigenous community leaders and their organisations make with conflict and conflict transformation lie at the heart of the processes we support. To learn more about them, we interviewed a number of community representatives, asking them about their perspectives and how they perceived advantages both of confrontational and dialogical approaches.

The ongoing regional capacity-building workshops take these experiences, perspectives and approaches as a starting point, complement them with additional models and concepts, and provide the space to apply them in practical exercises. Between the training modules, participants share what they have learned with their organisation and community.

Aims & Outcomes

The space to discuss their own experiences, share examples of how conflict analysis open new opportunities and explore how mediation and dialogue do make a difference is expected to change the participants’ individual approaches to conflict, to sensitise their communities and to enable them to successfully act as internal facilitators or mediators on behalf of their organisations.

Currently, more than 150 individuals and their organisations benefit from our capacity-development activities and trainings. They will plan how to apply their skills in the future, and how to institutionalise them in their organisations. Already, thanks to their training, they are mandated by their organisations to mediate in conflicts.

The insights of these participants and their organisations, as well as insights from mediators and dialogue facilitators from other parts of the world, will be discussed at an international meeting in 2014.

Key actors

We work with 16 indigenous (sub-)organisations in four regions across Bolivia.

Partners

The project is implemented by a consortium of Berghof Foundation together with:

  • Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo” (UCB),
  • Centro Internacional Toledo para la Paz (CITpax).

For more information, see: www.mediacionbolivia.net (Spanish only).

Funders

Funding is provided under the Instrument for Stability of the European Union and by the three implementing partners UCB, the Berghof Foundation and CITpax.

Recently, training participants implemented their own dialogue & mediation exercises in their own communities. (more to come on project website, will summarize for ours)

June 2014

The website www.mediacionbolivia.net was launched.

May 2014

The Andean Workshop took place so as to share Bolivian organisations’ experiences and to receive feedback and inspiration from other countries and experts for follow-up activities.

April 2014

The National Workshop in Bolivia, brought together to share organisations’ experiences with handling conflict among themselves, took place with selected participants from the government, civil society and the international cooperation partners.

For more information, training material and videos please visit the project’s website: www.mediacionbolivia.net (in Spanish).