New study on tradition- and faith-oriented insider mediators calls for more effective collaboration between peacebuilding actors

The study, titled Tradition- & Faith-Oriented Insider Mediators (TFIMs) in Conflict Transformation – Potential, Constraints, & Opportunities for Collaborative Support, launched this week in New York, conceptualises and contextualises a specific set of religious and traditional peacemakers as tradition- and faith-oriented insider mediators (TFIMs). The study considers their peace mediation roles, their potential and the constraints under which they work, and reflects on the opportunities for collaborative support that links various actors within conflict contexts.

The study was commissioned by The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and conducted by the Berghof Foundation with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) and Finn Church Aid. It draws from empirical knowledge acquired through case studies in Myanmar, Thailand, Lebanon, Colombia, Kenya and Mali.

The study identifies TFIMs as persons whose social position and function is explicitly defined by tradition and religion and/or whose inspiration, motivation, strategies and methodologies are implicitly shaped by tradition and religion. Enjoying the moral legitimacy and respect required to influence the opinions and perceptions of conflict stakeholders, TFIM’s are able to facilitate dialogic processes that create and nurture space for conflict transformation.

“TFIMs not only mediate between communities in conflict, but also help create the social and human capacity to transform conflicts, e.g. by engendering new TFIMs. In Myanmar there are a couple of fascinating examples where some TFIMs are facilitating dialogue among, and the empowerment of, (intolerant) religious leaders, who then gradually emerge as TFIMs. Two key aspects that contribute to their success is that they are innovative and that they prefer to keep a very low-profile”, explains Mir Mubashir, one of the two authors of the study.

TFIMs are subject to constraints in the support structures, which limit the effectiveness of their peace mediating efforts. These constraints include lack of effective collaboration and coordination between TFIMs and other peacebuilding actors, being overshadowed by national or international peacebuilding agendas, conflict-insensitive interventions on the part of international actors, and structural restrictions on TFIM engagement.

The study proposes a collaborative support framework as a tool for addressing these constraints.

The study holds great value for the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. “This baseline is very significant ground work for the Network in developing the concepts on how to better support local tradition and faith oriented inside mediators”, says Antti Pentikäinen, Executive Director of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.

“We will now negotiate with Network members and the UN on how to apply this framework in practice.”

Read the synopsis of the study here. Visit the website of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers by clicking here.