Our Publications


Expert Roundtable on Salafi jihadi armed groups: De-escalation trajectories and dialogue engagement...

On December 11, 2019, the Berghof Foundation hosted a confidential expert workshop on “Salafi jihadi armed groups – (De)escalation trajectories and dialogue engagement”, with funding and support by the German Foundation for Peace Research and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. This workshop aimed to discuss findings and policy implications from a two-year research project based on in-depth interviews with experts and practitioners in/on Mali, Syria and Somalia. It also offered a space for peer-exchange and mutual learning between organisations active in the field of dialogue engagement with Salafi-jihadi armed groups, including governments, international organisations and INGOs. Discussions addressed questions such as: What are specific ‘ripeness’ factors and entry-points for dialogue with Islamist armed groups, in order to reduce violence or pave the way for a peaceful political settlement? What is the role of ideology and religious-based dialogue in incentivizing behavioural de-escalation? What strategies are helpful in fostering a conducive environment for engagement, while mitigating spoiling behaviour within the (global) Salafi jihadi scene? What are future options for dialogue engagement by local bridge-builders as well as international third parties? This workshop report summarises the content and outcomes of these discussions.

Challenges and opportunities for conflict resolution with Salafi jihadi armed groups – Policy brief

This policy brief highlights recommendations for evidence-based policy making on pathways to conflict de-escalation with Salafi jihadi armed groups. It proposes a more nuanced public discussion of the topic. This brief draws mainly on the research report “Dialogue with Salafi jihadi armed groups: Challenges and opportunities for conflict de-escalation” which concludes a two-year research project based on case studies in Somalia, Syria and Mali.

Les groupes armés salafi-djihadistes et la (dés)escalade des conflits: Le cas d’Ansar Dine au Mali

Lorsqu'en 2012, le conflit violent éclate au Mali, le groupe armé salafi-djihadiste (GASD) Ansar Dine devient rapidement l'un de ses principaux protagonistes. Son chef Iyad Ag Ghaly a conservé un rôle de premier plan au sein de l'entité Jamāʿat nuṣrat al-islām wal-muslimīn (groupe de soutien à l'Islam et aux Musulmans, JNIM) formée en mars 2017. Cette étude de cas analyse trois tournants stratégiques opérés par Ansar Dine (puis par le JNIM), et souligne une évolution non linéaire vers une escalade progressive du conflit, tant au niveau de l’expansion géographique qu’au niveau de l’intensité de la violence. L'étude explore les dynamiques organisationnels et idéologiques qui ont contribué à ce changement de comportement tels que les rapports de pouvoir à l’intérieur du groupe, ainsi que le rôle de facteurs externes qui ont influencé les choix stratégiques d'Ansar Dine. L'étude conclut en explorant les possibles scénarios futurs de désamorçage du conflit.

Improving Community Safety in Contested Spaces: A Handbook for Syrian Civil Society Actors (English)

The handbook is designed to help civil society actors in contested spaces and conflict settings provide safety for their communities. It outlines the key principles of the community safety approach and provides practical guidance on how to identify security challenges and how to implement strategies to counter them. The handbook was originally developed for civil society actors in Syria, but it can also be used in other contexts. The handbook is currently also available in Arabic.

Keywords: Community Safety, handbook, conflict analysis, security providers, arms proliferation, casualties, shelling, local service delivery, armed groups, action planning, community engagement

Mapping of Local Governance in Yemeni Governorates

This mapping outlines the situation faced by the population in all 22 governorates of Yemen. We see this as a working draft and welcome any additions, corrections, or comments you might have. The mapping highlights the economic activities and resources that remain available and introduces the local administration and the situation of the local council in each governorate. It explores the extent to which different institutions of local authority — local councils, executive offices, and governors’ offices — continue to perform their mandates, and provides an overview of the availability of basic services, especially in the health, education, and water and sanitation sectors. The mapping is based on the review and analysis of documents, statistics, and official reports by Yemeni and international organizations, published studies and research, and interviews with local leaders in the governorates.

Keywords: Yemen, local governance, Abyan, Aden, Amran, Al-Baydha, Capital City of Sana’a, Al-Dhalea, Dhamar, Hadhramout, Hajjah, Al-Hodeidah, Ibb, Al-Jawf, Lahj, Al-Mahra, Al-Mahweet, Marib, Raymah, Sa’adah, Sana’a, Shabwah, Socotra, Taiz

Berghof Glossar zu Konflikttransformation und Friedensförderung. 20 Essays zu Theorie und Praxis

Das Berghof Glossar zur Konflikttransformation und Friedensförderung stellt die wichtigsten Grundprinzipien und -ansätze unserer Arbeit vor, in der wir Menschen und Konfliktparteien auf der ganzen Welt bei ihren Bestrebungen begleiten, eine friedlichere Zukunft zu schaffen.

Constitution Making in Contexts of Conflict: Paying Attention to Process

Towards Sustainable Peace: The Nexus of Peacemaking and Constitution Building

Carl sets the background of his study as such: Behind the headlines of reformed and new constitutions lie complex and dynamic processes with prominent and less prominent actors and initiatives, all taking place in same space and time as the ongoing crisis and conflicts. When successful, their actions add up to processes of constitution building that represent a new and purposeful dynamic of accommodation and assertion of a new law-based order. This transformative change emerges out of the counter-current of powerful and self-perpetuating economic, political and social systems of conflict. Within this background, Carl addresses questions like: what do we know about how such change processes happen, and what can we learn from those deliberate, planned and implemented projects, initiatives and interventions? He sets out a series of framing issues and concepts.

Keywords: Constitution making, Constitution building, process, peacemaking, mediated peace negotiations

From Armed Intra-State Conflict to a Functioning Constitutional Order. Reconciling Principles of...

Towards Sustainable Peace: The Nexus of Peacemaking and Constitution Building

Töpperwien focuses on third party interventions in the field of mediation and constitution building in conflict contexts. Based on different practitioner-oriented literature, she looks at the different processes and sub-processes around the nexus to analyse the theories of change and the resulting intervention strategies that focus on the transition from armed intra-state conflict to a functioning constitutional order. She identifies the perceived similarities and differences, tensions and complementarities in respect to applied principles that can be encountered.

Keywords: Third-party interventions, mediators, constitution building, constitutional order, intervention strategies, intra-state conflict

The Imperative of Constitutionalizing Peace Agreements

Towards Sustainable Peace: The Nexus of Peacemaking and Constitution Building

Nathan seeks to contribute to an understanding of the relationship between comprehensive peace agreements (CPAs) and post-conflict constitutions (PCCs). He defines a PCC as a new or revised constitution enacted as part of efforts to end a violent intra-state conflict and prevent its recurrence. This definition focuses on the purpose and not the timing of the constitutional reform. It encompasses constitutional reform that precedes, follows or takes the place of a CPA in an intended transition from intra-state conflict to sustainable peace. On this background, Nathan addresses three questions: How do conflict parties see the substantive and legal relationship between CPAs and PCCs when they are negotiating a settlement to end armed conflict? Why do the parties to a CPA frequently wish to constitutionalize their negotiated settlement in whole or in part? And what is the substantive and legal relationship between CPAs and PCCs after constitutional reform has taken place?

Keywords: Comprehensive Peace Agreements, Post-Conflict Constitutions, intra-state conflict, constitutional reform

Interactions Between Peacemaking and Constitution-Making Processes in Burundi. A Stabilising or a...

Towards Sustainable Peace: The Nexus of Peacemaking and Constitution Building

Nindorera analyses the regional mediation process of the Arusha Accords in Burundi. The process, first chaired by president of Tanzania Nyerere and then by Nelson Mandela, lasted for over two years and led to very comprehensive and detailed peace agreements. The following constitutional reforms, to a large extent, directly implemented provisions from the Arusha Accords after another complicated negotiations process which required further mediation by South Africa. Supremacy of either the Arusha agreement or the constitution was not specified which led to further conflicts. While the process has managed to end the civil war, it lacks legitimacy and it has not led to democratic governance. The case furthermore allows the analysis of ethnicity in peace processes, the impact of different mediation styles, the role of power sharing agreements, and the transformation of rebel groups into political parties.

Keywords: Burundi, Arusha Accords, ethnicity, civil war, power sharing agreements, mediation, rebel groups, political parties