The role of ex-rebel parties in building peace

Political parties can play an important part in shaping the direction of post-conflict peacebuilding, and parties that emerge from rebel movements have a particularly central role to play in this regard. While such groups are often uniquely placed to articulate the grievances that underlie the conflict and channel these into political processes, they are also able to remobilise for violence and undermine progress on peace.

This report discusses existing knowledge about the ways in which rebel groups transform into political parties and the factors that shape their contribution to peacebuilding. It then examines three cases of political parties that have emerged from rebel groups – the FMLN of El Salvador, UCPN (Maoist) of Nepal and SPLM of South Sudan. In each case it explores how the internal dynamics of the group and its relationship to society, the nature of the peace settlement, and the broader local and international context determine the group’s engagement with democracy and peace processes. Finally, the report examines how international actors can support rebel-to-party transition and the integration of these parties into peace processes and political systems in ways that promote a sustainable and inclusive peace.