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

In the late 1980s, Guatemalan civil society moved from being a spectator to a military conflict to an active participant in the search for peace. The article analyses the creation and implementation of the Commission for National Reconciliation, the Grand National Dialogue and the Oslo consultations. It argues that through these processes Guatemala’s structural problems were debated in public for the first time, thereby recognising the political nature of the conflict, the need for a negotiated settlement and creating a public momentum for both peace and democracy. The processes not only gave civil society a voice in setting the agenda for negotiations but also increased civil society’s demand and capacity for participation.