Press article, O Globo, August 24th, 2015 – Page 2

Dear reader.

Today, I made it into Rio’s press:

It is a brief interview about my work and about the trade of being a mediator! And enjoy the flowers!

See you soon!

LL#2 – The Darfur and Doha Peace Talks 2009 – 2014

Dear reader.

Good to have you back.

Today, let us take a brief look at the follow-up to the failed Darfur Peace Agreement (2006) and the Doha Document for Peace (2009-2011).

Background: Based on an initiative pushed by Qatar in 2010, the leaders of the major movements went to Doha for ceasefire talks[1]. Negotiators for most of the movements are in Doha, Qatar, for peace negotiations that are mediated jointly by the UN/AU. However, a key movement, SLM/A-Wahid is not participating, while the JEM pulled out in May 2010 despite signing a ceasefire agreement with GoS in March 2010[2].

In 2014, both the UN under UN Special Representative of the Secretary General, Haile Menkerios, and the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), under the leadership of President Thabo Mbeki have attempted to revive the Doha process[3] and to unite the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF)[4] in order to proceed to a first cease-fire agreement.

Process: In 2009, the Doha talks began mediated by the AU/UN Joint Mediation Support Team (JMST) chaired by Ambassador Djibril Bassole, former foreign minister of Burkina Faso. Initially Bassole invited only the JEM; other rebel groups were allowed to join later, with some initially refusing because of the venue in an Arab state. By 2011, most of the secular rebel groups had also joined. Libya and the U.S. also held meetings with the rebel groups, the outcome of which was the unification of the groups previously associated with the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). In July 2009, talks began between the JEM and the GoS at Doha. These talks led to trust-building agreements that were not honored. Shortly after these rounds of talk, bombing and fighting broke out in 2010 in Darfur. The humanitarian situation continued to decline as the number of IDP’s rose and food shortages increased. Then in January 2011, the government looked to strengthen its hand by negotiating with a new rebel group, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) led by Tigani Seisi, former governor of Darfur. At the talks held in Doha were also Thabo Mbeki, Djibril Bassoule and Scott Gration. These talks were seen by the other main Darfur rebel groups – the JEM and SLA – to be an attempt to divide and weekend Darfurian opposition and leaders of both groups spoke out against the talks, most notably on a visit to Juba to gain recognition from the Government of South Sudan. This in turn made the Government of Sudan fear that the SPLM might support the Darfur rebels .However, a draft agreement was signed by LJM and the GoS in January 2011. This was followed by a joint statement by the JEM and LJM reiterating their commitment to the Doha peace process. The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid did not participate .

Context: The pressure exerted by mediators and international actors on the parties at the Doha peace process was much softer than at the Abuja talks that led to the DPA. The focus at Doha was on building trust between the two parties and the mediators worked to make sure the environment was a safe space for that trust to be built. The mediators also did not draft a document to impose on the other parties as had happened at Abuja as the deadline drew near. Instead, mediators drafted initial documents in 2011 that were sent back and forth to all parties, ultimately resulting in a draft peace agreement in June 2011. However, even though the mediators focused on making the process inclusive and uniting the rebel groups, the JEM refused to sign this peace agreement, which became known as the DPA 2011. The AUHIP also initiated a Darfur Political Process with the goal of conducting Darfur-wide consultations leading up to a Darfur conference to draft a permanent settlement. The process was meant to come up with a settlement that had the mandate of the people because arriving at an inclusive peace process with all armed groups (the aim of Doha) proved very difficult. The lack of local support for the DPA could also have been a motivation for devising a process of canvassing Darfurians about the peace process. The DPP was not meant to overrule Doha or distract from it, and the Doha negotiations continued to focus on arriving at an agreement that would be accepted by all armed groups.

Outcome: On January 15th 2011, the AUHIP, Sudan, the United States, and the UNAMID held a meeting chaired by Mbeki. According to a statement released by the AUIP, the four parties discussed how to expedite the Darfur Political Process and move into the Darfur conference. The parties decided to initiate a Darfur Political Process on the ground to be carried out by the AUHIP and UNAMID In April the AUHIP met again to discuss the Darfur Political Process and concluded that it should begin on May 1, “in a manner concurrent with and complimentary to the Doha talks.”

To this day, this initiative has not succeeded in producing a sustainable outcome and durable peace.

[1], accessed August 6th, 2015

[2] For a critical appreciation of the Doha process, see Williams and Simpson, 2011, 41 ff

[3], accessed August 2nd, 2015

[4] The Sudanese Revolutionary Front is a composite of 3 main armed groups: SLA/Minni Minawi, SLA/Wahid, and JEM.

LL#1 – The 1996 Guatemala Peace Accords

Dear reader.

Good to have you back for our first Lesson Learned. This time, we are looking at the milestones of the 1996 Guatemala Peace Accords.

The negotiations for the Peace Accords were remarkable in the sense that the negotiating parties agreed on a complex agenda which also included the sincere and honest undertaking to address the underlying root causes of the conflict. The agenda entailed a range of themes and topics, from security sector reform, agrarian reform and the role of indigenous people and their cultural identity in a democratic society. Through a first agreement (Agreement on the Procedure for the Search of Peace with Political Means, Mexico, April 26 1991), parties decided on the content of the agenda. substantive issues first (democracy; human rights; refugees; truth commission; indigenous rights; economic, social and agrarian situation; role of the army; strengthening of civil authorities and institutions; constitutional reforms) and procedural issues afterwards (cease fire, demobilization of the insurgents and their rejoining of legal life). They also agreed in the nature of functions to be fulfilled by the mediator (called “conciliator”) Monsignor Rodolfo Quezada Toruño and those of the UN observer. While the parties agreed on defining the terms of democracy and the role of the rule of law (Agreement of Queretaro, Mexico, July 25 1991), the negotiating parties fell into a 2-year negotiation deadlock, mainly due to internal governance issues, the clinging on to power by spoilers from the military and further human rights abuses which posed a predicament to all parties involved. In 1994, parties resumed talks with the UN as the moderator of the talks and with the previous conciliator, Monsignor Quezada as the Go-To person to interact between the negotiation parties and Civil Society through the ASC (Framework Agreement to Resume the Negotiations between the Government of Guatemala and UNRG, Mexico, January 10 1994). Another innovation of the Framework Agreement is the decision to call upon the governments of Colombia, Spain, the United States, Mexico, Norway and Venezuela in order to constitute a “group of friends” of the Guatemalan peace process with the aim to give the necessary support to the UN moderator in view to speed up the process and to give it “security and firmness,” acting -at request of the parties- as “witnesses of honour” at the signature of the agreements, which -by the way -they did only at the signature of the final peace agreement held in Guatemala City last 29 of December, 1996. Following the Calendar Agreement (March 1994), parties engaged in comprehensive talks to tackle the first set of identified, substantive issues. The negotiation of this accord took more than two years and it provoked -along with the attempt of a coup d’ état by former president Jorge Serrano in May 1993- the paralyzation of the negotiations for almost six months in 1993. It also calls for the UN verification of the provisions and clauses of the Agreement, that allowed the installment since November 1994 of the UN mission for Guatemala, called MINUGUA. Following a range of other substantive and procedural accords, the final Peace Accord was signed in Guatemala City in December 1996 (Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace, Guatemala City, December 29 1996). The Central American case of Guatemala clearly demonstrates that UN intervention in internal armed conflicts both as mediator and as monitor of the peace accords in order to verify the fulfillment of the agreements is a fundamental role of the UN that, as we have already mentioned, must be enhanced and promoted in the future. In other words, peace making – peace through negotiation and mediation- and peace building –peace through development and democratization- must be emphasized in internal armed conflict resolution.

The case also emphasizes the need to properly understand and map out the conflict dynamics and structures taking place at the state level in order to allow for the state to rethink its role as a guarantor of security and the enabler of a conducive peace building environment. Furthermore, the innovative regional cooperation and the range of agreements brought about an effective conflict prevention mechanism, ensure the protection and rights of the indigenous minorities and populations. Finally, special attention must be given to power-sharing arrangements if the analysis of the conflict reveals that at the core of the conflict it has been the contested space and power of the state in the first place. Without addressing these issues at the state level, institution-building will rather be ineffective in the sense that actual peace dividends and benefits are not felt.

Thank you for checking in today!

Lessons Learned – sharing comparative knowledge

Dear reader!

Good to have you back.

I am starting a new initiative of sharing lessons learned from my experiences in the field. These will be short summaries of the milestones of political mediation in a range of cases and I sharing these with you in order to keep up the knowledge sharing part, identifying key areas for further research, provide some new and not so new insights on mediation strategies and styles and invite to a debate whether mediation at the political level is a process conflict regulation or conflict resolution.

All Lessons Learned will start with the abbreviation LL followed by a hashtag and the number of the lesson. As always, feel free to comment, participate, discuss or to take it forward for further distribution and discussion.

See you then!

And enjoy the ride…

BRICS Survey

Hi there.
Being based at the BRICS Policy center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, allows me to research the role of the BRICS bloc in general and of emerging middle powers more specifically, in international peace and security.
To get a better understanding of its role and impact, I am conducting a survey about BRICS, with the intention to compile a report based on your inputs and for submission to policy makers for consideration in light of the BRICS 2016 summit.
Your inputs are much appreciated and throughout the next questions, you can comment freely, insert references or provide feedback as necessary that could shed a light on the question or even invite for further reflections.
At the end, there is a contact form and I would be very privileged to know about you, your contact details and if you allow me to follow up with you in case for further information or comments.

Here is the link to the questionnaire:

Thank you for participating in our survey. Your feedback is important.
Regards, Pascal da Rocha

GSUM hosts colloquium on legitimacy and resilience in national dialogue processes

On August 6th, 2015, the Global South Unit for Mediation (GSUM) was glad to welcome its Fellow, Dr. José Pascal da Rocha (Columbia University) and Dr. Renata Giannini (Instituto Igarapé) for the colloquium “Legitimacy and resilience in national dialogue processes”. Researchers and practitioners of the field, as well as graduate and undergraduate students participated in the event, which took place at BRICS Policy Center, Rio de Janeiro.

Dr. da Rocha’s presentation was guided by the question of why so many national dialogue processes have proven to be ineffective in post-conflict settings. Understanding national dialogue as processes, such as roundtables and conferences, to foster integration, inclusion and sustainable peace, through wider political participation and active citizenry, Dr. da Rocha approached this question by looking at three key variables: legitimacy, resilience, and effectiveness. The underlying hypotheses for this perspective are that legitimacy of political actors enables effective national dialogue processes, and that resilience to external shocks leads to sustainability within this dialogue.

The intuition for investigating national dialogue through the lenses of legitimacy derives from the finding that many peace processes lack broad popular support, making them often an unstable and insecure enterprise. In Dr. da Rocha’s understanding, legitimacy is conferred not only through a set of pre-defined legal norms, but through the popular acceptance of authority, governance, and accountability, manifesting itself through diverse stated and unstated commitments.

Turning to resilience, Dr. da Rocha defines as the capacity to absorb negative events, to be able to make rapid adjustments to shocks, as well as the ability to create new structures in order to make the system sustainable. For effectiveness, Dr. da Rocha defines the ways that parties experience the outcome of a peace process as in accordance with procedural justice, as well as human rights, social outcomes and other standards of rule of law conduct, fostering security and preventing harm and being able to make a positive change to the wider social, political, or economic conflict dynamics in the local context.

On the examples of Mali, Yemen, and Nepal, Dr. da Rocha showed the shortcomings of these national dialogue processes in terms of effectiveness, legitimacy, and resilience. In the peace process of Mali, for instance, the criteria for effectiveness were not met, since the ceasefire agreement was written by external mediators and nor rights-based outcomes, such as the implementation of basic services, jobs or justice were achieved. Also in terms of legitimacy and resilience, the agreement is flawed, since parties from the periphery of the country were not adequately represented in the peace process, prioritizing the restoration of order, but ignoring the needs for change of many populations. Also in Nepal and Yemen, similar problems prevail: particular parties remain excluded from the negotiation table, and poverty and gender-based exclusion make the countries vulnerable to future conflicts.

In his conclusion, Dr. da Rocha argued that the creation of an enabling environment is directly linked to the creation of an enabling peacebuilding environment. Therefore, peacebuilding initiatives should target the countries’ institutional capacities, in order to stimulate the development of local human capacities and collective social institutions, so that societies are better able to manage social change.

Mediation expert with OSCE


Welcome back!

Just wanted to share that I have the honor and the privilege to having been selected to the OSCE Mediation and Dialogue Expert roster, vetted and verified.

As a consultant, I be will working under the general supervision of the Deputy Director of the Conflict Prevention Centre for Operations Service and in close co-operation with the OSCE Mediation Support Team. Specific tasks may be developed based on a given assignment. The consultant will be tasked with:

  • Liaising with the CPC/Operations Service Mediation Support Team to provide tailor-made expertise supporting OSCE mediation, dialogue or crisis response efforts;
  • Providing expertise that is relevant in mediation processes, including gender responsiveness, mediation and dialogue process design, power-sharing, management of natural resources, national minorities, ceasefire arrangements;
  • Supporting the work of high-level OSCE representatives leading mediation, dialogue and crisis response efforts;
  • Designing and conducting interactive training, coaching and retreat sessions related to mediation and dialogue facilitation;
  • Preparing background notes on mediation and dialogue-related topics;
  • Reporting on the specific assignment as well as identifying future needs;
  • Of course, any other relevant tasks, as needed.

I am looking forward to the challenge, to working with colleagues, and to provide my best to a constructive outcome of peace processes.

Colloquium at BRICS Policy Center on National Dialogue Processes

Hi there.

Welcome back! This is to notify you about a colloquium I will be giving, being privileged as a fellow at the Global South Unit for Mediation, BRICS Policy Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on legitimacy and resiliency in national dialogue processes.

This colloquium is an in-depth continuation of a presentation given on the same topic and using Mali as a case study at the 28th Annual Conference of the International Association for Conflict Management, Clearwater, Florida.

Here is the link to the colloquium and for registering:

National dialogue processes have taken place in a number of countries going through political transitions. Designed to expand participation in political transitions beyond elites, their ambition is to allow diverse interests to influence transitional negotiations. One body of literature on national dialogue and reconciliation links the process of national dialogue to the question of legitimacy and sustainable peace in peace processes, with a focus on representation, accountability and governance. However, success stories linking legitimacy and resilience to effective national dialogue processes remain elusive and anecdotal at best, with a rather bleak score sheet when assessing the peace dividend and the level of national ownership, with no rigorous scholarship in the literature linking process to outcomes.
This colloquium will share lessons learned using 3 case studies (Mali, Yemen, Nepal) to investigate the notions of legitimacy and effectiveness as mediators between the local and the national dialogue processes, incl. the scaling up of the concept of resilience to the national level in order to contribute to a renewed debate on the key elements and components of durable peace. Since it speaks about legitimacy at the political level, participation of civil society, and the research method used to explore the phenomena, this colloquium is suitable for policy-makers, academics, civil society representatives and students of all grades alike.