What are the parameters for successful National Dialogues? What are lessons learned from international engagement in these complex processes? What can third parties do to improve coordination and cooperation in support of nascent or ongoing National Dialogues?
With these questions in mind, the German and Swiss Mission to the United Nations together with the Berghof Foundation and swisspeace invited participants to a roundtable discussion on International Engagement and National Ownership: Lessons-learned from Yemen for emerging National Dialogue Processes on 13 April in New York City (NY). The roundtable brought together representatives from the United Nations and its member states, international experts and practitioners, as well as local stakeholders at the premises of the German Mission. By focusing on the case of Yemen, the aim was to reflect on the nexus of international engagement and national ownership in National Dialogues and defining lessons-learned for international support of National Dialogues.
Opening the space for a fruitful exchange, Ambassador Jürgen Schulz, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations and Ambassador Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, highlighted the importance of National Dialogues as a participatory and promising approach in the field of peace mediation being part of the essential instruments of crisis and stabilization policy. Presenting the National Dialogue Handbook. A Guide for Practitioners, Luxshi Vimalarajah then offered participants cutting-edge comparative insights from over three years of research and practice on National Dialogue processes.
Building-up on this food-for-thought, the following panel discussion facilitated by Hans-Joachim Giessmann, focused on the main parameters of effective international third party engagement and how the United Nations and international NGOs can provide meaningful and conflict sensitive support without compromising local ownership. Roxaneh Bazergan from the UN Mediation Support Unit, Luxshi Vimalarajah and David Lanz, Head of the swisspeace Mediation Program, contributed to the panel discussion by shedding light on their experiences in supporting National Dialogue processes. As a highlight, Afrah Al-Zouba, Former Deputy Head of the National Dialogue Secretariat in Yemen, enriched the panel discussion by offering first-hand insights on the potentials and caveats of international engagement in the Yemen National Dialogue from a local stakeholder perspective.
As part of the project on National Dialogues, the roundtable in New York is part of the Berghof Foundation’s engagement in promoting the strategic exchange between local and international stakeholders on how to strengthen National Dialogues as participatory tools for conflict transformation.