Why does inclusion matter for peace?

Inclusion does not mean giving everyone a seat at the negotiating table. It does mean creating opportunities for people with a stake in lasting peace to shape it. The UN has defined ‘inclusivity’ as “the extent and manner in which the views and needs of parties to conflict and other stakeholders are represented, heard and integrated into a peace process.” *

Inclusion means it is important to avoid the views and needs of elites drowning out those of the wider population. To strengthen a society’s ability to avoid a relapse into armed violence, groups in society beyond those immediately involved in the conflict also need to be included in the peace process. 

Broad based inclusion leads to more public support and greater legitimacy for any process and resulting agreement. This is particularly true if civil society organisations are included in the process – they can bring local expertise and knowledge, represent the interests of different communities, champion the peace deal, and hold the signatories to a peace deal accountable for its implementation. 

There is emerging data to show that peace negotiations involving civil society produce more durable peace agreements than those that do not, with the risk of an agreement breaking down being reduced by 64 per cent.**

Navigating inclusion in peace transitions 

Conciliation Resources’ research examines how change is perceived by those living in conflict-affected contexts. This report looks at the strategies used by different groups to influence political change. In so doing, we are building up a picture of the role of inclusion, and how best to support the inclusion of different, under-represented or marginalised groups in peace processes.

Gender inclusion in political settlements

Women, men and gender and sexual minorities across many sections of society play vital roles in building peace and helping societies recover from conflict, although too often they have little influence over the resulting peace. Clear opportunities to support gender inclusion exist in all phases of a peace process – before, during and after a peace agreement.

This report explores how meaningful participation at all levels of decision making, regardless of a person’s gender identity, is negotiated in elite-led peace processes and political settlements in conflict-affected contexts. It is based on analysis of Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, Nepal and Colombia.

Gender and sexual minorities in peacebuilding

A society cannot be said to be peaceful when groups within that society experience persistent, multiple and targeted forms of violence and discrimination. Highlighting the experiences and challenges of a particular minority group may offer insights applicable to inclusive peacebuilding practice more broadly. 

An approach to conflict analysis, that takes into account sexual orientation and gender identity as well as other factors that determine access to power, authority and resources, can allow for deeper understanding of the complexities of violence and peace. 

Our latest report documents experiences of minorities in Colombia and Nigeria to help identify ways to support the inclusion of gender and sexual minorities in peacebuilding.

Indigenous women in peace processes

In Colombia, the ability of broader society, including indigenous women’s organisations, to meaningfully participate in the implementation of the Peace Agreement is directly linked to the sustainability of the peace process. This report explores the historic experience of indigenous women in Colombia – a group usually absent from political decision-making processes. It shows how the peace process in Colombia provided an opportunity for them to play a key role in peacebuilding and the reconfiguration of the political settlement in their country.

Youth perspectives on peace and security

Young people who have experienced conflict firsthand have a vital role to play in peacebuilding. However, in many cases they are seen not as positive forces for peace, but rather as threats to it. This report brings together the experience and ideas from nearly 500 young people in five different conflict regions - areas where the perspectives of young people are not often heard. It shows that young people already play roles for peace, but their potential remains largely untapped. It also shows they often have a very clear vision of peace. The report identifies the key changes which need to be made to ensure young people are included in creating more peaceful societies.


* UN Security Council, Peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict: report of the Secretary-General, 8 October 2012, A/67/499-S/2012/746, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50f3fd382.html [accessed 4 May 2018].

** Nilsson, Desiree, ‘Anchoring the Peace: Civil Society Actors in Peace Accords and Durable Peace,’ International Interactions 38, no. 2 (April 2012)