In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, the first of multiple resolutions promoting women’s participation in conflict resolution, prevention, peace building and post-conflict reconstruction. Almost 20 years on, and despite an exponential growth in the number of organisations working on Women, Peace and Security, and the establishment of this field as an area of study, women are still largely excluded from formal peace processes. Similarly, civil society and other non-armed stakeholders who are directly affected by conflict are not adequately heard in most official peace talks.
Over the past 15 years, HD has been taking advantage of its involvement in a wide array of dialogue and mediation initiatives worldwide to pragmatically promote the inclusion of women, youth, civil society and marginalised groups in mediation processes.
The participation and contribution of women, youth and civil society in peace processes brings a variety of perspectives, ideas, networks and resources that enrich conflict resolution efforts and contribute to their sustainability. They offer analysis and perspectives that would otherwise not be available to mediators. It is often through consultations with those stakeholders that innovative ideas can emerge and inform process design. Given the growing recognition that multi-track peace efforts are needed to address today’s complex and fragmented conflicts, inclusive approaches to peace processes are becoming an important part of the mediator’s toolkit.
HD is in a privileged position to have a practical impact on inclusion due its involvement in dialogue and mediation processes in approximately 30 conflict contexts across Asia, Africa, Eurasia and the Middle East.
Building on its proven capacity to work with diverse groups of actors, and taking advantage of its niche as a private organisation with access to high-level dialogue tracks, HD is working to increase inclusivity in peace processes and strengthen the participation of women, youth and civil society.
HD has pursued activities in many countries, including Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Mali and the broader Sahel region, Burundi, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Mozambique, Senegal, Myanmar and the Philippines. The organisation has also added impetus to its efforts to promote inclusion across its operations by maintaining a small team of inclusion advisers, and annually assessing its inclusion activities and lessons learned.
Inclusion work can take many forms depending on the peace process and the political space available for the participation of women, civil society and youth. Activities may include: mapping relevant actors; networking and consultations among women’s groups; delivering mediation-related capacity building; providing women, youth and civil society with access to decision-makers (notably by linking them with armed groups); organising dialogues among these groups; offering opportunities to network and form coalitions; establishing local peace monitoring groups; and providing indirect support through co-operation with inclusion-minded international partners.
In addition to its operational efforts, HD carries out policy work and has implemented the ‘Women at the Peace Table’ initiative in Africa and Asia, which has brought together high-level female mediators, negotiators and advisers to identify strategies for improving women’s participation in peace processes.
At the policy level, HD also draws lessons from its own experience and shares them with partners in the peacemaking community in order to inform global thinking on women, peace and security and contribute practical recommendations for involving all those who have a stake in a process. Publications such as Broadening participation in peace processes: dilemmas and options for mediators weigh up the benefits of including a whole range of stakeholders while From clause to effect: including women’s rights and gender in peace agreements specifically focuses on increasing consideration of the needs of women.
HD would like to thank the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Irish Aid) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Liechtenstein for its support to HD’s inclusion work.