4/2010 Content

85 (2010) 4: Civil Society and Peace

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NGOs as Bringers of Peace? Opportunities and Limits
Thania Paffenholz

The following article analyses opportunities and limitations of NGOs in peacebuilding. The article presents an evidence-based assessment as well as a critical reflection. After a short discussion of definitions and terms, the text continues with an introduction into seven possible civil society peacebuilding functions in different phases of conflict. Thereafter, the text presents an assessment of the relevance and effectiveness of these functions based on the results of a three year research project coming to the conclusion that NGOs have a role to play in peacebuilding; however, a distinct analysis of their relevance and effectiveness is needed. The effects of civil society peacebuilding are reduced by a high level of violence, authoritarian and weak states alike, the behavior of polarized media as well as the way interventions are planned and implemented. It is also important to notice that civil society engagement cannot replace political action.

Behavioural Change through Norm Diffusion? The Approaches of ICRC and Geneva Call to Engaging Armed Groups
Claudia Hofmann / Ulrich Schneckener

While state actors frequently have difficulties in dealing with non-state armed actors, transnational NGOs have developed strategies that aim specifically at the proliferation of and general adherence to international norms among non-state armed actors (“norm diffusion”). It is their goal to persuade non-state armed actors to accept international humanitarian law norms and to adapt their behaviour accordingly. As such, the ICRC offers trainings in international humanitarian law to armed actors, and explains their responsibilities with regard to the protection of civilians in military operations to them. The organisation Geneva Call provides education in the field of antipersonnel landmines and supports armed actors in their efforts to clear mined areas and to destroy stockpiles. But with which methods and under which circumstances can the ICRC and Geneva Call succeed in influencing non-state armed actors to change their behaviour according to international norms? The paper analyses the problems and risks as well as the opportunities of norm diffusion between the ICRC and Geneva Call, respectively, and nonstate armed actors.

Civil Society Contributions to Compliance Control of Nuclear Arms Control Treaties
Martin B. Kalinowski

Civil Society is increasingly involved in the policy area of international arms control. Their opportunities are very limited for compliance control in the nuclear nonproliferation regime due to its particular sensitivity. This paper starts off with a discussion of technical failures in the official verification of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and of its political obstruction and biased interpretation. The severe gaps not being able to detect clandestine facilities render little civil society contributions highly influential and controversial. More and more data get available for the civil society that can be used to expose potential violations of the NPT and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Based on case studies and on systematic considerations the contributions that civil society may offer are analyzed with regard to the different stages of verification and to the various degrees of integration with the official procedures.

Civil Society and Peacebuilding. Experiences from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Martina Fischer

Since the mid 1990s, international organisations have emphasised the significance of social actors in peacebuilding efforts. Based on the assumption that these actors have a strong potential for democratisation, “strengthening civil society” became a keyword in international missions for post-war peacebuilding. In general, this increasing interest is a very positive development. However, civil society actors should not be overloaded with unrealistic expectations. Looking at the example of Bosnia and Herzegovina, this contribution analyses some of the shortcomings and dilemmas of external strategies for peacebuilding. It critically reviews initiatives aiming at establishing democratic structures and state institutions as well as civil society support. The author argues that the endeavours on different levels have not been well interlinked and have generated very ambivalent effects. Moreover, it is concluded that the guiding norms and concepts have to be questioned, and peacebuilding strategies should be revised accordingly.

Peace in Afghanistan: By Whom? With Whom? The Role of Local Civil Society Key Actors and NGOs in a Bottom-Up Peace Process
Cornelia Brinkmann

In crisis regions, neither military action nor diplomacy can secure peace. Thus, greater responsibility is placed on civil society to deal with violent conflicts and post-conflict rehabilitation. In Afghanistan, international organisations work with non-governmental organisations and civil society actors in this connection. Identifying appropriate partners from fragile, person-specific power structures of elders, mullahs, and former commanders is just one of the challenges they face. Another is cooperating with Afghan non-governmental organisations whose link to civil society is weak. Up to now, the democratisation process in Afghanistan has not been widely accepted amongst local figures of power. The consistent use of “Do No Harm” rules in all civil interventions and the systematic involvement of Afghans in identifying peace potential could substantially increase the sustainability of political and social transformation processes.