The workshop discussed the results and policy implications of a three-year international research project coordinated by the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) in Geneva.
The project was a comparative analysis across thirteen countries on the specific roles of civil society in peacebuilding. Accordingly, civil society appears to be more effective in performing particular functions.
Protection of civil population, monitoring of human rights are two such functions where civil society performs well, and even better when combined. The role of civil society in advocacy is especially relevant for relevant peacebuilding topics, such as agenda setting for peace talks and the mobilization of mass protests/peace movements.
The research findings suggest that a profound rethinking of support strategies is needed. There is currently a disconnect between peacebuilding-relevant activities and the actual direction of donor support. To address this, a first step consists of a solid analysis of the enabling conditions for a working civil society.
Engaging civil society also requires thinking beyond the classical, Western-oriented definition of NGOs, and looking at non-professional, less visible agents of change. Finally, more support should be granted towards activities for the prevention of potential societal conflicts as well as towards longer-term work grounded in strong socialization institutions.