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Inclusive Approaches to Sustainable Peace

23 December 2014

In what way can inclusion contribute to the quality and sustainability of peace agreements and political transitions? How can broader participation of diverse voices be organised to increase the effectiveness of negotiations? Which actors have been included in peace processes and with what kind of the results?

WILPF reflected on these and other questions at the launch of a research publication at the Graduate Institute in Geneva in November. The Center on Conflict, Development and Peacemaking launched its project on “Broadening participation in Track One peace negotiations.”

This comparative case study, based on 40 peace processes, presents the most extensive research to date on this topic.

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Inclusion isn’t just about thinking about the actors at the table. There are different ways to be inclusive at different stages of the process.

Don’t worry if you didn’t manage to attend the event in Geneva. We’ve got you covered! We hope this makes for some nice reading during this holiday period.

The panel presented a wide array of angles, obstacles, findings, and questions on what makes peace processes inclusive and effective.

What is the dilemma of inclusion, anyway?

Over time, greater inclusion in peace processes has become common within the international community. Inclusion is extremely important to gain legitimacy in the agreement and anchor the process among all actors in post conflict societies.

At the same time, practitioners often take a goal-oriented approach to inclusion based on what makes the process effective. It is often argued that negotiations for peace agreements can be more complicated with more actors at the table.

This is why it is so important to do research about the actual effects of inclusion at different stages of peace processes.

According to Dr. Thania Paffenholz, Senior Researcher and Project Coordinator at the Graduate Institute, inclusion isn’t just about thinking about the actors at the table. Rather, there are different ways to be inclusive at different stages of the process.

What kind of inclusion can contribute to a sustainable peace?

The aim of the Center’s research was to pin down what kind of inclusion best contributes to sustainable peace.

It found that “facade participation” for the sake of it isn’t enough to create sustainable implementation. Rather, it has to be high quality participation with possibilities to influence.

The panellists found that influence, more than anything, makes the difference.

Influential, or effective, participation is made possible through a combination of strategies. In the study, nine models of participation were introduced. These ranged from direct participation at the negotiation table, to civil society initiatives and mass action with people on the street, to put pressure on parties to come to a peace agreement.

Ultimately, peace processes have to be pragmatic to adjust to the given context. It is important to do this by mapping and understanding the actors and their different identities.

What’s WILPF got to do with sustainable peace processes?

WILPF was excited to participate in the discussion since our Integrated Approach focuses on similar themes to those presented in the Center’s study. We underline the importance of looking at the root causes and context of conflict to be able to maintain deep peace. This cannot be done simply by bringing an exclusive selection of representatives to the metaphorical table. All sectors of society have to feel represented and feel that they have had influence for it to truly work.

Has the study gone far enough?

The study has significantly contributed to and underlines the importance of qualitative research in truly understanding peacebuilding situations.

Particularly interesting for WILPF was the finding that women are the most represented group in peacebuilding processes. The good news is that this means United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security has made a real impact!

The next step for WILPF is to turn these numbers into meaningful action by continuing to monitor peace processes and participation. WILPF will continue to work with the Graduate Institute to ensure that practitioners as much as possible use academic research contributions.

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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