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Political Engagement with Non-State Armed Groups: Dilemmas, Challenges and Techniques

Geneva Peace Week Event

As part of the Geneva Peace Week, the GCSP addresses the sensitive issues surrounding the engagement of non-state armed groups (NSAGs), and will discuss best practices.

Engaging non-state armed groups is not a new topic in debates regarding mediation and the peaceful settlement of disputes. In recent years, policy-makers’ and practitioners’ discussions have addressed  both the changing nature of armed groups and the challenge of engaging with “proscribed” or “extremist” groups in a context of a growing body of counterterrorism legislation.   These challenges are distinct for different mediation actors.

State fragility, the regionalisation of conflict, and the blurring of lines between the political, criminal, and ideological interests and objectives of increasingly fragmented armed groups create complex challenges for engagement.  The UN Guidance for Effective Mediation advises UN mediators to: “Identify the level of inclusivity needed for the mediation to start and required for a durable peace that addresses the needs of all affected by the conflict. Communicate with any party or actor necessary to address the conflict, with the knowledge of the other negotiating parties.” Yet decisions over whether, how and when to engage are not easy, and must be taken after careful consideration of the risks and benefits of engaging, based on a detailed assessment of armed groups’ nature and objectives.

The Panel will explore the dilemmas surrounding engagement with NSAGs and reflect on techniques used by different organizations to engage.

Moderated by Ms Teresa Whitfield, UN Department of Political Affairs- Policy and Mediation Division / UNOG

 

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Location

GCSP, Maison de la paix

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