The Hague, 5 October 2015 - Clingendael Academy will train 18 African women mediators in the coming two weeks. The training “Negotiation and Mediation as an Instrument for Conflict Resolution” is a follow-up programme of several capacity building courses which were organized by the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DIRCO), the African Union (AU) and UN Women, held in Pretoria and Addis Ababa.
The participants are from 18 different countries all across the African continent and work in the fields of mediation, peace and security. The group includes ambassadors of Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs), officers at regional organizations such as the South African Development Community (SADC) or the AU, and women working in civil society.
The two-week programme is a mixture of skills training in mediation and negotiation as well as sessions to support the further development of the African Women Mediation Forum. The Forum was established in 2014 in Pretoria with a vision to empower African women playing a leading role in mediation processes in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and peacebuilding on the continent.
Many mediators are not prepared nor trained for large scale peace negotiations. Since mediation is the facilitation of a negotiation process, lack of understanding of the negotiation process and the behaviour of negotiators can be a serious problem. To train mediators in negotiation skills and processes is therefore a crucial part of the knowledge set of mediators. Mediators must be able to:
- Understand the phases of a negotiation and how negotiating actors prepare and look at the negotiation process;
- Have experienced themselves what it is like to be a negotiator and the pressures negotiators are under, since negotiation is a complex social interaction, monitored and somewhat controlled by parties not at the table with a large number of overlapping and excluding interests.
The negotiation and mediation skills training is provided by trainers of Clingendael Academy: Ron Ton, director of the Academy, Wilbur Perlot, dp director of the Academy, and Judith van den Boogert, training and research fellow. The Clingendael method is an unique mix of content, skills and work processes based on the work of its research programme on negotiation (PIN) and refined through many years of training in more than 100 countries.
Next to this skills part, the group discusses the issue of inclusivity and international gender norms, which relates to their discussion to define a renewed action plan for the African Women Mediation Forum.
The way peace processes deal with inclusivity differs greatly. In most cases there is a struggle how to ensure that all parties are actually represented at the negotiation table. Most negotiations logically focus on the groups in conflict, but if the peace agreement should be comprehensive, the focus on warring factions is (often) too limited. As a result, the training also deals with questions such as: What are the instruments and best practices to promote inclusivity? What conditions are there to make inclusivity policies work? Is inclusivity the best option in all scenarios? The group will discuss this with Ms. Betty Bigombé – mediator in the LRA-Uganda conflict – and Ms. Bronagh Hinds -leader of the women coalition in Northern Ireland, among others.
Since the start of 2015, Clingendael Academy, with funding from the Dutch MFA, offers training courses in negotiation and mediation skills and processes, both to groups in conflict as well as mediators. In essence the training sessions provide a tool kit to make conscious choices during the peace process and to avoid pitfalls, all to enhance the changes of durable peace. Clingendael Academy sees the capacity of groups in conflict to conduct large scale negotiation processes as a fundamental part of the success of peace processes.