CMI’s working environment is typically fluid and high-risk. In such circumstances, demonstrating cause and effect in simplistic terms is not the way to go. At the same time, however, there is always a strong public demand for clear results. Given this dilemma, careful but robust approaches are needed. CMI is strongly committed to developing our internal processes to meet these diverse demands.

Conflicts are prime examples of ‘wicked problems’: unique in their characteristics, and impossible to describe definitively. There are no right or wrong answers to such problems, only better or worse. Resolving complex conflicts is itself a complex undertaking, involving a great and often clashing variety of individuals, groups, interests, and risks. Conflicts are invariably characterized by starkly polarised perceptions, and this can lead to narrowed perceptions of the possibilities for peace and of the means to achieving it.

Results-Based Management (RBM)

At the core of CMI’s approach is our system of Results-Based Management (RBM). Incorporating internal planning, monitoring and evaluation processes, risk management and financial monitoring, RBM enables us to contribute to more effective and sustainable peace processes.

Effective implementation requires the continual development and fine-tuning of the appropriate tools and approaches. Capacity-building and quality assurance through strengthened peer-to-peer learning are key parts of our work. We also support cooperation and outreach with peer organizations and others involved in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

Internal planning, monitoring and evaluation

Internal planning, monitoring and evaluation (PME) improves the quality and effectiveness of CMI’s programme and our ability to contribute to peace processes and to development of the mediation field. It is a comprehensive effort of the entire organisation, and enables results-based assessment and management of the programme. The PME process has three key objectives:

  • Learning: In the highly complex and risky social and political environments we work in, adaptive learning is vital. A structured PME process helps us to reflect on experiences, adapt to change, and learn from every experience. It allows the whole organisation to grow and improve continually.
  • Enhanced management: PME supports every aspect of CMI’s programme and projects. As a management resource, it is essential to sustaining the practices that work well and to changing those that still need improvement.
  • Accountability: A continually developing ability to learn and to better manage our operations helps us to continue to meet external expectations. Ultimately, our accountability to beneficiaries is about making a positive difference to conflict resolution.

Types of results

The CMI programme’s desired impact on prevention and resolution of violent political conflicts comes about through making peace processes more sustainable and effective. Each context and conflict is unique, and so the approach taken to solve each conflict must also be unique. As such, successful conflict resolution processes bring together a broad and diverse array of skills and approaches.

The CMI programme contributes to this flexible peacemaking through five main types of results:

TRUST: Trust among the conflict parties and in the progress of the peace process is crucial for any peace that can be sustained over the long term.

CHANNELS: Channels of communication need to be maintained, and in many cases new ones need to be created. Lack of communication creates misunderstanding and hinders and imperils constructive progress.

CAPACITIES: The technical and political capacities of the conflicting parties, mediators and societal actors are essential to peaceful resolution of conflicts.

INCLUSION: Including all the relevant people, groups and views in the peace process increases the applicability and sustainability of the outcome.

SOLUTIONS: Conflict resolution is a cooperative effort to find common solutions to critical issues that cause conflict.

For monitoring and evaluating the CMI programme, these five desiderata form the general types of results – they are the desired changes that CMI can help to bring about, based on the problem analysis of each unique conflict.

Even the best-laid plans can be or become inadequate to the real-world demands they must meet, and for this reason every plan for conflict resolution must be flexible enough to cope with evolving contexts and changing needs. The activities that CMI supports can help in breaking deadlock and in building on the positive momentum that is readily available when circumstances permit.

Results highlights in 2015

Trust: In 2015, CMI helped to build significant trust among key conflict actors (in Yemen and the Ukraine) and build conflict parties willingness to address nationally important issues (in South Sudan and Iraq). In all cases, progress in building mutual trust rests on CMI’s impartiality and ability to bring conflicting sides together in a non-threatening manner. Trust is vital for dialogue, and in peacebuilding efforts that are at a more advanced stage CMI has been able to gradually expand the process to include new actors and issues.

Channels: As an impartial actor, CMI has greater freedom to explore contacts and engage with actors who are excluded from official political processes and negotiations. In 2015, CMI was able to help in building cooperation among parties that have rarely engaged with each other. These results were especially encouraging in situations where political processes are locked (Yemen, Libya, Moldova) or where some parties are not yet included (Ukraine, Iraq).

Capacities: CMI strives to support peacebuilding through improving the capacities of local parties. Our work in 2015 brought improvements in the ability of dialogue “core groups” and related key actors to engage in wider peace processes. This has led to concrete progress at the official level in many cases (in Ukraine, Moldova, and Yemen). CMI also works to improve the capacities of mediation organisations, focussing on the capacities of mandated regional organisations to mediate. These improvements have been achieved through providing direct operational support, and by improving the skills and networks among international mediation actors (African Union, the regional actor ECCAS in Central Africa). The results build on CMI’s expertise and positive leverage, often with a strong focus on the meaningful participation of women.

Inclusion: In 2015, CMI worked to make peace processes more sustainable and effective by incorporating previously sidelined stakeholders in conflict resolution (in Moldova, Ukraine, South Caucasus, Palestine, and Yemen). Among other means, CMI supports the creation of informal dialogue “core groups” with an inclusive mix of political and societal actors. This has proven an effective way of building mutual ties between stakeholders and of developing creative and inclusive solutions that support and supplement official processes.

Solutions: The cooperative creation of solutions begins with the stakeholders identifying the right problems to solve – that is, identifying problems that can be solved, in order to generate goodwill, trust, and progress towards peace. Whether through drawing on CMI’s expertise alone or in combination with that of other experts, we help participants to make the most of their knowledge and to build consensus on the most urgent matters. In 2015, this approach resulted in significant contributions to official peace processes (in South Sudan, Moldova, and the Central African Republic).