Simon Mason has worked with Dekha Ibrahim Abdi for many years. The new book "Mediation and Governance in Fragile Contexts: Small Steps to Peace" is a result of this collaboration and six days of interviews with Dekha. Together, Mason and Dekha developed an innovative approach to reflect on, and guide, peace mediation in situations where people experience violent conflict, and where they perceive the forms of state or non-state governance as being insecure and severely inadequate.
Sustainable solutions instead of hasty perfection
Because many of the mediation approaches developed in secure and stable states in North America and Europe cannot be transferred one-to-one to fragile contexts, their approach specifically combines the local, gender-, culture- and conflict-specific internal perspective with the academic, external perspective rooted in worldwide comparative methodologies.
As the name "Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Linkages (SMALL) Framework for Peace" already says, their approach is characterised by the fact that they distinguish which measures are to be taken in the short, medium and long term in order to create stable governance and sustainable peace. Mediation is the short-term measure to resolve an acute conflict through a negotiated agreement.
However, in order to contribute to stable, long-term governance, medium-term measures such as the establishment of "local peace committees" are crucial. In these committees, the conflict parties regularly exchange views and ideas for action and policy reform, and can quickly put together mediation teams. Representatives of both the traditional and modern governance systems are involved.
"Many small steps that are locally rooted and linked to medium and long-term initiatives to build a reliable state lead more sustainably to peace and good governance than rushing to the ultimate goal of a 'perfect' state," concludes Mason.