HD is engaged in conflict resolution through dialogue and mediation in many conflicts across Asia, Africa, Eurasia and the Middle East. It works in a pragmatic manner to mediate directly between conflict parties or support the work of other mediators. Its wide array of projects provides HD with a unique opportunity to promote the inclusion of women, youth, civil society and marginalised groups in mediation processes.
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. 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 and global activism, 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.
The inclusion of multiple stakeholders in peace processes brings a variety of perspectives, ideas, networks and resources that enrich conflict resolution efforts and contribute to their long-term sustainability. 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 an important part of the mediator’s toolkit. It is HD’s firm belief that all those capable of contributing to peacemaking should be able to do so.
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 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. This wide array of engagements provides HD with a unique opportunity to promote the effective participation of women and civil society in peacemaking, while constantly trying to improve its practice.
HD has pursued activities aiming to strengthen the contribution of women, youth and civil society in several 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. HD has 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.
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.
The participation of women and civil society brings significant benefits to peace processes. It offers analysis and perspectives that would otherwise not be available to HD and other mediators. It is often through consultations with women and civil society actors that innovative ideas can emerge and inform process design. Inclusion is also a way for HD to diversify its network of national actors, who have the ability to operate across the conflict’s main dividing lines, engage political actors and encourage dialogue among parties.
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. At the policy level, HD draws lessons from its own experience and shares them with partners in order to inform global thinking on women, peace and security.
HD also uses its unique position to share and promote the latest thinking on inclusion and offers peacemakers practical recommendations for involving all those who have a stake in the 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Liechtenstein for its support to HD’s inclusion work.