How to understand better the dynamics of a negotiation process? How to recognize different patterns of negotiation behaviour? How to perceive the role of women in peace negotiation processes? These were some of the central questions raised during the negotiation training for African women mediators that recently took place in Pretoria. After a successful training and several rounds of discussions, the partners involved agreed to establish a new platform. Clingendael and South Africa cooperate in the establishment of an African Women Mediation Forum on the 7th of March 2014 in Pretoria
South African initiative
At the initiative of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), a three-weeks programme on conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and constitution drafting was organised in Pretoria from 17 February until 7 March 2014. The programme was attended by twenty female mediators from sixteen different African countries, the African Union (AU) and the South African Development Community (SADC). The women were all high ranking diplomats and civil servants.
Cooperation with the Clingendael Academy
Ron Ton, Director of the Clingendael Academy, delivered a three-day training on negotiation skills at the start of the training programme of three weeks in total. The training in negotiation skills was scheduled at the very start of the event, to underline the importance for the mediator’s understanding of process, behaviour, procedures and substance during conflict resolution and peace negotiation.
Other training providers were the Mediation Centre of the University of Pretoria, Accord in Durban (conflict resolution, peacekeeping and preventive diplomacy) and the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Pretoria.
Negotiation Skills programme
The negotiation course covered strategies and concepts of international negotiations to strengthen the capacities of mediators in guiding, facilitating and observing conflicting parties in their endeavour to reach an agreement. The three-day seminar contained introductions, short assignments, assessment exercises, and bilateral en multilateral negotiations simulations. The detailed programme can be found below.
As part of the negotiation course sub-groups were invited to give their opinion and reflection on three questions. How do you perceive the role of women in peace negotiation processes? How to improve women participation in peace & international negotiations? And how to assess the role of international organisations in promoting women’s participation in peace and international negotiations?
Conclusions of the debate
1. Women have added value to the process and outcome of peace negotiations by specific women concerns, more sensitiveness of the human factor and bringing in different perspectives on gender balance and women and child issues;
2. Women should be included in peace negotiation teams because of their merits and good qualifications;
3. The capacity building is extremely important to empower and stimulate the participation of women in peace negotiations;
4. Gender awareness for men and women is a vital element for the effective functioning of peace negotiations teams;
5. More involvement of civil society in peace negotiations resulting in better inclusions of women’s perspectives is required;
6. Active support and affirmative action is for the time being needed to promote women’s participation in peace negotiation teams;
7. Peer review mechanism to be used with results shared globally (international pressure);
8. Existing organisations like SADC, AU, UN should be held accountable for implementation by member states and appointment of women as special envoys and part of negotiation teams;
9. More firm adoption of mechanism needed to deploy women in peacekeeping negotiation and monitoring units at all levels – women included (acumen, attitude, aptitude, ability – the 4 A’s; see AU protocol and roadmap)
Certification of women’s negotiation and mediation training programmes will have a valuable impact on promoting women’s inclusion in peace negotiation and mediation teams.