The Conflict in Africa Student Discussion Group presents
Professor Darren Kew
UMass Boston Graduate Program in Dispute Resolution
Professor Kew will discuss how the contribution of Track II Diplomacy must now include not just the contributions that can be made by leaders who move between Track II and official negotiations, but also the role of civil society organizations and individuals in the critical task of building peace. Although the exclusion of civil society groups may be ‘tidy’ for peace negotiations that are already complex, their absence from the negotiating table can prove damaging and even fatal to the peace agreement during the post-conflict peacebuilding phase. From Oslo to Arusha, the focus on elite interests in peace negotiations left the populace at large without perceived stakes in the agreed peacebuilding frameworks, undermining the ability of governments and transitional authorities to reach a sustainable peace.
Looking at case material from the Middle East and Africa, this discussion explores descriptive and prescriptive elements, including: – the evidence regarding what has been lost by not having civil society groups engaged in peace processes – the primary contributions that civil society groups can make to peace and democracy building – possible avenues for including civil society groups in peace negotiations – critical roles for civil society groups in post-conflict peacebuilding that can be incorporated into peace settlements.
Darren Kew studies the relationship between transformative conflict resolution methods and democratic development, particularly in terms of democratic institution building in Africa and the growth of political cultures that support democracy. Much of his work focuses on the role of civil society groups in this development. Professor Kew has worked with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action to provide analysis and blueprints for preventing conflicts in numerous areas around the world, including Nigeria, Central Africa, and Kosovo. He has also been a consultant to the United Nations, USAID, the US State Department, and to a number of NGOs, including the Carter Center in a 1999 effort by former President Carter to mediate the Niger Delta conflicts. Professor Kew is recognized by policymakers in Washington and academics here and in Nigeria for his deep, firsthand knowledge of Nigerian politics and society. His work on how conflict resolution methods promote democratization of national political cultures is among the first of its kind linking these important fields.