Peacemaking and Inclusive Politics

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC.   At the current juncture, the main challenge for UN peace operations is to reconnect mission activities to the crucial role of peacemaking. The complexity of contemporary violent conflicts necessitates a heightened focus on mediation and political facilitation aimed at helping the parties solve their fundamental differences in a non-violent manner. Providing such assistance in a timely and appropriate manner should be the primary objective of UN peace operations and serve as a guiding principle for the fulfillment of other more specific tasks in the mandate. The importance of inclusive political processes has long been recognized as a fundamental prerequisite for lasting peace. In the context of asymmetrical conflicts in fragile states, this presents hard dilemmas of engaging constituencies that are represented by non-state armed actors. Especially when being tasked to assist in the extension of state authority, missions tend to work primarily with the host government. This reflects mandates as much as mindsets. Recent experience, however, show that this is not a viable approach in situations where fundamental political problems remain unsolved and/or the government lacks popular legitimacy. The necessity—and difficulty—of getting the local politics right is directly associated with the complexity and danger of the environments. A key factor for future success will thus be to strengthen missions’ ability to adapt to the evolving political dynamics of the host society. At the every-day level this hinges on two fairly mundane requirements: Competent leadership in the field. In addition to his/her personal capacity to maneuver on the...
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