Feature: Inclusivity

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.

Dimensions of Inclusivity

Process/Input inclusivity refers to the nature of negotiation and decision-making structures in political settlements. Participation – in what, how and to what extent actors engage, or are allowed to engage, in decision-making processes – is a crucial element.

Outcome/output inclusivity refers to two main dimensions: the representativeness of state institutions vis-à-vis their citizens, and the responsiveness of key texts codifying the settlement and its implementation regarding their distribution of rights and entitlements across a broad spectrum of groups and classes.

Horizontal inclusivity refers to the participation of key stakeholders who have the capacity to implement and/or spoil peace and who represent important constituencies.

Vertical inclusivity refers to the extent to which larger segments of the population have access to, and influence over, decision-making; with a specific emphasis on (previously) marginalized societal sectors and groups.

Berghof Projects

Erwin van Veen & Véronique Dudouet: Hitting the Target but Missing the Point? Assessing Donor Support for Inclusive and Legitimate Politics in Fragile Societies. INCAF Paper. Paris: OECD, 2017.

Stina Lundström & Shadia Marhaban: Challenges and Opportunities for Female Combatants’ Post-war Community Leadership: Lessons Learnt from Aceh and Mindanao. Workshop Report. Berlin: Berghof Foundation, 2016.

Véronique Dudouet & Stina Lundström: Post-war Political Settlements. From Participatory Transition Processes to Inclusive State-Building and Governance. Research Report. Berlin: Berghof Foundation, 2016; also available: Case studies from IPS Project.

Barbara Unger: Der Friedensprozess in Kolumbien: Friedensabkommen, Friedensnobelpreis und noch kein Frieden, FriEnt Impulse. Bonn: FriEnt, 2016.

Katrin Planta, Vanessa Prinz & Lusxhi Vimalarajah: Inclusivity in National Dialogues, IPS Background Paper 1. Berlin: Berghof Foundation, 2016.

Katrin Planta: Broadening and Deepening Participation in Peace Negotiations, Strategic Framework. Berlin: Berghof Foundation / Dialogue, Mediation and Peace Support Structures Programme, 2015.

Barbara Unger, Claire Launay-Gama, Mauricio García Durán et al.: Diez Propuestas para la paz en Colombia desde la regions. Berlin, Bogotá & Paris, 2014.

Véronique Dudouet, Hans J. Giessmann & Katrin Planta: From Combatants to Peacebuilders. A Case for Inclusive, Participatory and Holistic Security Transition. Berlin: Berghof Foundation, 2012.

Véronique Dudouet: From War to Politics. Resistance/Liberation Movements in Transition. Berghof Report No. 17. Berlin: Berghof Research Centre, 2009. 

CINEP - The Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular has been a partner to Berghof for many years, most recently as the lead coordinating agency of the comparative project looking into Inclusive Political Settlements and State-Building and how these may help to avoid conflict relapse. Based in Colombia, CINEP works both in practice and in research for a just, sustainable and peaceful sciety.

We highlight here two of their endeavours, which are focused specifically on enhancing inclusivity:

CINEP is involved on the civil society side of accompanying the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism of the Ceasefire under the recent peace accords in Colombia. They are informing and qualifying civil society and community participation in the areas to which ex-guerrillas are now starting to return. This short video documents the first phase of this work.

CINEP documents the different experiences of reintegration from the perspectives of the recipient communities and the ex-combattants. The report focuses on dynamics of reconciliation, inclusion and coexistence, and highlights both successes and failures from which to learn.