Owning the process: Public participation in peacemaking
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Quintin Oliver, who played a role in civil society initiatives in three different phases of the Northern Ireland peace process, examines civil society’s role in each phase.

In addition to preparing processes, it is important to emphasize the significance of preparing people so that they feel comfortable and are able to participate fully and make effective contributions. Alienation and frustration can otherwise set in very quickly.

Quintin Oliver

He argues that in the first phase of preparing for peace civil society must undertake both advocacy and mobilisation in order to foster a climate for peace and to ensure that civil society’s voice is heard in the formal negotiations.

In the formal negotiation phase civil society can play a direct role at the negotiation table, raise public knowledge and apply pressure on the negotiating parties if talks stall or collapse.

In the implementation and consolidation phase, civil society must help by fostering a sense of ownership of the process at the grassroots.