Democratic Process Institute visits Edinburgh to discuss youth engagement in conflict resolution

On Wednesday 11th December Laura Wise and Robert Wilson (PSRP) led a session on ‘Navigating Inclusion in the Changing Landscape of Peace Processes’ with a group of 15 delegates from across Turkey as part of the Democratic Progress Institute’s comparative study visit to Edinburgh. The discussion encouraged participants to reflect on the opportunities and challenges for youth inclusion in peace processes globally, drawing on PSRP research and parallels with PSRP work supporting women’s meaningful inclusion in peace processes across the Middle East and North Africa.

The dialogue was placed in the current fragile context of Turkey’s stalled resolution process. Visiting parties drew on comparative studies to analyse and compare various mechanisms used to work towards a democratic solution in Turkey and the wider region. Participants constituted a diverse group of 15 of Turkey’s prominent young figures with diverse professional and political backgrounds from across Turkey, including political party’s youth representatives, civil society workers, university students, journalists and social workers.First-hand examples of specific models, approaches and interactions through which young people can contribute to these processes were raised.

The presentation given by Laura Wise set out the broader research questions of the PSRP research and invited the delegates to think further about the examples they were familiar with and the inclusion conundrums involved in the various stages and levels of process. By addressing the salient questions surrounding inclusion, the presentation offered a nuanced conception of how inclusion can be understood. Questions and challenges over who is included, why they are included and how different types of inclusion can be managed in order to navigate the tensions between these different forms of inclusion, were all put to the audience. The PA-X Peace Agreement Database was also shown to the delegates and there was a brief break in the presentation, giving the group a chance to ask Laura questions regarding its function.

Following on from this and picking up on some of the themes discussed by Laura, Robert Wilson then gave a presentation on the Yemeni Voices Project, setting out the broader challenges and wider questions around ethics and design involved in the interactive inclusion project. Examples of the potential power of civic groups in Yemen traditionally excluded from the national process were explained. To add further context to these examples, the staging website was then shown to the delegates and the power of the iterative nature of the project in gathering Yemeni experiences and viewpoints was also explained.

After a Q&A session, a constructive discussion about the delegates’ own experiences of challenges around bringing these actors into play and bridging the gap between the official process and the powerful actors on the ground at local level. Questions were asked about all of the country cases discussed in the presentations and about the deeper practical and theoretical questions regarding the prospects of bringing excluded actors in and keeping them engaged in processes going forward.

Read the full event report.