Owning the process: Public participation in peacemaking
Publication date: 
2002
Accord issue: 
13

Guatemala’s 1996 peace accords’ almost 200 substantive commitments on social, economic and political reforms were the result of extensive public participation in defining the agenda for negotiations. The parallel democratisation process was reinforced by the public debate and democratic space created by the peace process’s mechanisms for public participation. 

The article describes the context that led to the accords and democratisation, as well as the instruments created for public participation, including the National Reconciliation Commission, the Grand National Dialogue and the Oslo consultations.

Yet against the long history of authoritarianism and systematic exclusion, the involvement of representatives of diverse sectors of the Guatemalan public in defining the substantive agenda of the peace talks and in shaping the accords that emerged from them was ground-breaking.

Enrique Alvarez and Tania Palencia Prado

Despite this wealth of initiatives, the authors argue that the failure to implement the accords fully is in part due to the lack of an institutionalised mechanism for civil society participation and the failure of civil society to foster cohesive mass mobilisation.