On 27 February 2017 the conference ‘National Dialogue for Participatory Conflict Transformation’ took place at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. The event also marked the launch of the “National Dialogue Handbook. A Guide for Practitioners”, a comprehensive and practice-orientated resource that originated from an intensive two-year project implemented by the Berghof Foundation, in cooperation with swisspeace, and supported by the German Foreign Office and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Rüdiger König, Director-General for Crisis Prevention, Stabilisation, Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office and Dr. Marion Weichelt Krupski, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland to Germany were opening the event.
The launch brought together a wide range of actors from across the world with an interest and experience in National Dialogues, including conflict stakeholders, civil society, peacebuilding practitioners, (inter)national development donors and policy-makers. Discussions centered around current practices in the field, with working groups on (1) Parameters and key characteristics of (effective) National Dialogue processes, with insights from Tunisia, Sudan, Jordan; (2) Support to National Dialogues by international development and political actors, focusing on options and limitations; and (3) National Dialogue Support Structures as dead-lock-breaking mechanisms and safety nets, with insights from Lebanon, Nepal and Yemen. Moreover, particular attention was paid to dilemmas, challenges and needs emerging from the practice and elaborating key lessons for the future.