Alexander Ramsbotham and Zahbia Yousuf introduce the Accord Insight 3 project and publication. They emphasise the importance of transforming relationships in peace processes, and draw on the publication's case studies to present four key priorities to enable this transformation:
- Tranforming relationships from the middle out to avoid reinforcing the gap between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' reconciliation efforts
- Upstream reconciliation can begin to address legacies of violence and can have a positive influence on peace processes, even in the absence of a political agreement
- Building new relationships, not restoring old ones necessitates acknolwedging harm and grievance on all sides of conflict and looking beyond the victim/perpetrator dichotomy
- Relational statebuilding, including institutional reform, are rarely associated with reconciliation but should be seen as integral to peacebuilding
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Priorities for transforming relationships in peace processes
- Identify links that connect across constituencies, levels and distinct social platforms, in particular intermediaries who can ‘listen down and speak up’.
- Are there efforts to support the resilience of diverse reconciliation efforts? In particular, is there awareness of political schisms that may be reinforced by power-sharing arrangements and that risk reversing community initiatives?
- Are efforts helping to break down polarised narratives of the conflict?
- Do they support conditions for negotiations to encompass diverse perspectives – for example to accommodate the interests of victims of violence, direct and indirect?
- Do practices prioritise building new relationships rather than restoring old ones? Do they recognise different types of harm and are they adaptive to evolving needs and priorities across society?
- Are discrete spaces available where different institutional interests or personal experiences can be brought together to build trust and transform ‘victims and perpetrators’ into ‘citizens with equal rights’?
- Are institutional reform processes engaging society to create greater confidence in the state?
- Are reconciliation initiatives addressing structural violence?