Panel discussion on lessons learnt from peace processes
Enlarge image (© Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative, http://www.inclusivepeace.org/) On 10 November 2016, the Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative, supported by the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) and the Permanent Mission of Germany in Geneva, invited to the panel discussion „When Peace Agreements Fail to Secure Sustainable Peace: Learning from Yemen, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka“ at the Graduate Institute Geneva.
Ambassador Hans-Joachim Daerr underlined in its opening remarks the need for the international community to learn from mistakes in former peace processes. As an example he mentioned the internal process of structural adjustment at the Federal Foreign Office in order to allow a more effective involvement in peace promotion. He referred to initiatives like the peacelab2016.de platform that enables the civil society to engage in the process via consultations.
The event was moderated by Thania Paffenholz, Director of the Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative. The panelists described their experiences with peace negotiations in Yemen, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
Rafat Al-Akhali, former Minister for Youth and Sport in Yemen, mentioned three reasons for the national dialogue conference in 2013/2014 being unsuccessful: the representatives of the civil society had not been elected in a transparent manner due to practical problems, the populations had only been consulted after the decision had already been taken and many Yemenites had felt disengaged from the process because of the lack of basic supplies.
With regards to Afghanistan, Ms. Paffenholz evoked the peace negotiations in Bonn in 2001. As a co-organizer of the forum for civil society actors from Afghanistan she had experienced how disagreement between the actors had damaged the political negotiations.
For Shukria Barakzani, Afghan Ambassador to Norway and former member of the parliament, the Taliban should have been part of the negotiations. In her opinion, inter alia, monitoring by the United Nations, the inclusion of neighboring countries´ governments as well as effective development cooperation are crucial for the peace process.
Enlarge image (© Inclusive Peace & Transition Initiative, http://www.inclusivepeace.org/)
Martin Stürzinger, consultant on peace policy at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, touched upon the ceasefire agreement in Sri Lanka in 2002. Back then, he was an expert at the Swiss Embassy in Sri Lanka. He explained five reasons for the failure of the agreement: First of all, the process was not elaborated enough, e.g. two months to negotiate the agreement were not sufficient. Secondly, Muslim and Tamil parties were not involved adequately. Due to the nearly non-existing participation of the leader of the paramilitary group “Tamil Tigers” it was unclear to what extend the organization was going to support the agreement. This situation was further aggravated by the fact that the international community couldn´t agree on the appropriate process. Finally, the procedure had not been well communicated to the population.
In summary, Ms. Paffenholz stressed the importance of cooperation and communication with different parts of the population in order for peace processes to succeed. However, this was often impeded by the given time pressure.