On inclusivity. The role of norms in international peace mediation

This paper published in collaboration with swisspeace as part of their Essentials series sheds light on the norm of inclusivity within an analytical framework that was developed as a result of a research project investigating the growing influence of norms in international peace mediation processes. Subsequently, it highlights practical considerations with regards to the design of a mediation process as well as the role of mediators and their sphere of influence in striving for an inclusive process.

Inclusivity, defined in the UN Guidance for Effective Mediation as the “extent and manner in which the views and needs of conflict parties and other stakeholders are represented and integrated into the process and outcome of a mediation effort” received increased attention in the past few years and has been the subject of several academic studies. However, the ambiguity of the term inclusivity and the resulting range of interpretations and underlying assumptions make a conceptualization rather challenging; the same applies to the discussion on practical implications. It proves to be necessary to not only distinguish between the inclusion of actors (process-related) and topics (content-related), but also to recognize that the generally accepted notion of inclusivity cannot be understood as including all actors and topics at all times at the main negotiation table. Having said this, a much broader and more nuanced field of interventions opens up.

The analytical framework used in this Essential not only affects the implementation of the norm as such, but also the understanding of the role and sphere of influence of a mediator. In cases where an inclusive process is strived for, mediators and those supporting a mediation process need to be aware that imposing additional actors and topics to a mediation endeavor would run against the definitional norm of consent, and therefore runs the risk of undermining the very definition of mediation.

The piece is published on the swisspeace website, and it can be read here.