Distinct from negotiators who advocate on behalf of a specific group, mediators don’t represent parties to a conflict. Track One mediators convene, structure, and organize negotiations, intervening when necessary to move the process forward. Track Two mediators broker relationships and trust between parties, nurture dialogue, and build support for Track One negotiations. Mediators in both tracks can lead the way to comprehensive and sustainable peace.
For more than ten years, using rhetoric and resolutions, governments and multilateral organizations have acknowledged the critical role of women in peace negotiations and called for greater women’s inclusion, including as mediators.
Yet, there has been little appreciable increase in the strikingly low numbers of women in these roles. The UN, for example, has never appointed a woman as chief or lead mediator in peace talks it has sponsored. Women who mediate informally, often doing the essential work of motivating conflicting parties to come to the table, remain largely ignored and unsupported.
Research shows that women change the structure, focus, and dynamic of negotiations. They’re described as “particularly interested in the democratization of the peace process… wanting to make the voice of civil society and excluded groups heard.” They raise topics beyond “women’s issues” to address fundamental questions of security and justice. Both male and female mediators suggest that the presence of a woman can seem less threatening to conflict parties, and thus promotes a less aggressive atmosphere. Women have been said to “grease the wheels” of negotiations and “help bring down the temperature without anyone losing face.”
Momentum is building to address the paucity of senior-level female mediators. Many bodies, including the UN’s Department of Political Affairs and the African Union are assembling rosters of qualified women mediators, identifying and removing systematic barriers to women’s participation at the highest levels, and mandating action. Women are mobilizing to play larger roles in Track One processes and to obtain more support for their Track Two initiatives.
Colloquium 2011, the 12th annual event hosted by The Institute for Inclusive Security, will bolster this movement. Twenty experienced women mediators from around the world will travel to Cambridge, MA in January 2011 for a week of teaching, speaking, and exchange at Harvard University. They will then spend a week advocating to policymakers in Washington, DC and New York City. Those gathered will come from civil society, government, and political movements. Each will have significant experience mediating conflicts.
These experts will bolster their own skills, increasing their capacity to serve as influential mediators. Equally important, they will raise the profile of women in mediation and further sensitize those who plan and support negotiations about the importance of inclusive, multi-track processes.
Our colloquium participants will advocate to the US and other governments, the UN, the Organization of American States, and others who support negotiations as well as appoint and train mediators. Participants will call on these actors to name more women mediators and increase support for women leading Track Two mediation. They will also identify specific models and practical approaches for designing more inclusive negotiations.
Recommendations might focus on:
• Structuring negotiation tables and teams;
• Providing checklists and other guidance to those planning negotiations;
• Augmenting support for multitrack processes and women’s organizations informally mediating conflict;
• Improving selection processes and criteria for rosters;
• Refining mediation guidelines crafted by multilateral organizations; and
• Designing gender-sensitive training for men and women mediators.
ACROSS CONFLICT LINES: WOMEN MEDIATING FOR PEACE
Dates January 8-Janaury 22, 2011
Location Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, DC
As we are hoping our participants will serve as senior-level mediators in the future, we are seeking experienced and accomplished women peace builders. Preferably, candidates will have received some degree of recognition or endorsement for their work.
Participation is open to women who have experience:
• mediating conflict at any level - local, regional, national, or international;
• mediating conflict where there was violence or a risk of violence involved;
• working across a fracture or several fractures in society, such as across ethnic, regional, tribal, religious, or other divides; and/or
• compelling multiple parties to a conflict to engage in formal negotiations.
In addition, participants should:
• be fluent in English; and,
• be comfortable advocating to policymakers and political leaders and speaking to the media.
Please submit a CV and a bio to Sarah Chatellier. Inclusive Security staff will begin conducting interviews with shortlisted applicants in late October and start notifying selected participants in early November.
Please submit applications by October 31, 2010
The Institute for Inclusive Security will cover all travel, accommodation, and meal costs for participants.