Towards Sustainable Peace: The Nexus of Peacemaking and Constitution Building

How does peacemaking, particularly that includes mediated peace negotiations, interface with constitution making in practice?  What lessons can be drawn from each field to inform the other? How and when can practitioners in each field work together for better outcomes? What challenges face attempts to coordinate actors in the two fields?

These are some of the questions being raised in this project with the purpose of exploring the nexus between peacemaking and constitution making. Through studying a number of country cases, reviewing existing literature from each field and facilitating discussions between experts and practitioners, the project aims to increase knowledge and understanding about the intersection of peacemaking - with a focus on mediation - and constitution making, and to strengthen collaboration and cooperation between the two fields so that they can better reinforce each other.

The Berghof Foundation and the United Nations Mediation Support Unit (Department of Political Affairs) will develop a practical, hands-on Guiding Note on working at the nexus of peacemaking and constitution making. The project is supported by the Federal Foreign Office, Germany.


January 2018 – February 2019


Although the interplay between peace mediation and the establishment of a new social contract in the form of a constitution has long been apparent, the changing nature of conflicts, markedly since the end of the cold war, has transformed the way we think and deal with constitutions. An important body of work exists which points out the relevance of constitution making within the larger framework of conflict prevention, conflict transformation and peacebuilding, including mediation. The connection is visible in mediation terminology and concepts that are used in both fields, such as negotiation, political settlement, national dialogue, etc. Likewise, constitutional matters such as multilevel government, federalism, power sharing, dispute resolution and electoral systems are often dealt with in mediation and negotiation processes. However, many central questions regarding this nexus remain and need to be addressed.

Aims and objectives

  • Create a space for exchange between experts and practitioners from both fields to foster discussion, understanding and collaboration around the nexus of peacemaking and constitution making.

  • Point out the most important linkages between constitution making and peacemaking from both perspectives.

  • Develop the understanding of hitherto unexplored areas in the nexus between peacemaking and constitution making, including underpinning ideas, goals, sequencing, external framework conditions, synergies, tensions, and mutual dependencies.

  • Encourage scholars and practitioners in the peacemaking and constitution making field to engage with each other and strengthen collaboration and understanding between the two fields.

  • Produce a Guiding Note to inform and orientate practitioners and policy advisors on how to combine expertise and lessons learned from both fields within a joint framework of participatory conflict transformation processes.

The project is a collaborative effort between the Berghof Foundation and the United Nations Mediation Support Unit (Department of Political Affairs). Within Berghof, it is a joint endeavour between the Mediation and Dialogue Support Programme and the Conflict Transformation Research Programme. It is supported by the Federal Foreign Office, Germany.


May: International Roundtable in New York

The international roundtable will bring together leading experts and practitioners in peacemaking and constitution making to discuss some of the issues at the heart of the nexus between the two fields. It aims to encourage the participants to engage with each other and to inform the creation of the guiding note.

April – August: 3 field studies (TBD)

Experts will conduct three field studies on particularly interesting cases of the interplay between peacemaking and constitution making. These cases are still to be identified but the selection will try to highlight different aspects of working at the nexus and to reflection in different parts of the world.

September: Verification workshop in Berlin

Preliminary lessons learned from the roundtable, field studies and desk research will be presented and discussed at an expert workshop in Berlin. Outcomes of this discussion will be used to improve the draft guiding note.


February: Launch of Guiding Note in New York

The United Nations’ Mediation Support Unit and the Berghof Foundation will host events launching the Guiding Note in New York.

The publications from this project are available at this page.