REGIONS AND THEMES
CMI’s programme is focused on making meaningful contributions to peace processes in four regions – the Middle East and North Africa, Eurasia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. A strong focus on women’s participation and gender-specific aspects of conflict is extensively integrated into all parts of CMI work.
Today’s violent conflicts tend to be highly complex. They have wide regional impact and involve multiple actors and a diverse array of political interests. In such conflicts, unofficial conflict resolution actors like CMI have some important advantages over official bodies. Independent organisations bring to the negotiating table not only their own wealth of experience and expertise, but also opportunities that are not always open to state-related bodies. And as an independent, conflict resolution organisation with Finnish origins, CMI has the added benefit of being truly impartial and without a power agenda of its own and is thus able to work in the most challenging regions in the world. Each context and conflict is unique – they involve different factors, actors and dynamics. Similarly processes to resolve them are also unique.
In 2019, CMI is establishing a regional team for Asia to continue the historical engagement of President Ahtisaari in the broader region. One of the key successes of President Ahtisaari’s work was accomplished with multiple partners in the Indonesian province of Aceh bringing a decade-long conflict to an end in 2005. The new regional opening allows CMI to incrementally develop its expert networks with likeminded actors and organisations, while exploring for potential added value for the organization in Asia.
Supporting ceasefire and peace processes
Further, on the Korean Peninsula, CMI supports the search for credible, peaceful solutions to questions underlying the tensions through provision of advice and expertise in peace processes.
The Arab Spring of 2011 might seem long gone, but its legacy continues to reshape the politics of the Middle East and North Africa in many ways. In addition to having been one of the underlying drivers of the 2011 uprisings, the inability of Middle Eastern and North African states to decisively tackle ongoing challenges and to accept and implement critical reforms has contributed to undermining the stability of many societies.
CMI works in the Middle East and North Africa to foster inclusive dialogue and to support and complement nationally-led peace efforts. We believe that the region’s underlying challenges can be only solved if all the relevant actors are genuinely included in developing and implementing local and sustainable solutions. CMI’s added value is in its ability to facilitate, enable and support unofficial dialogue together with local actors. Despite continuing change in the political environment, we believe it is possible for peacemaking processes to proceed steadily for a more stable and equitable overall outcome.
Supporting Iraqi national reconciliation
CMI supports national reconciliation efforts in Iraq by facilitating informal dialogue and providing expert support.
The violence and instability in Iraq are rooted in deeper political struggles within society. The protracted sectarian conflicts stem from historical grievances, foreign interventions, and past policy decisions. Lack of effective agreement on fundamental concerns risks prolonging instability and violence by causing increased marginalisation and discord within the political system. However, there is now widespread acknowledgement at all levels of Iraqi society that these obstacles must be tackled vigorously and inclusively.
CMI’s work in Iraq is focused on supporting local efforts towards reconciliation, peace and stability through informal dialogue and expert support. CMI’s independent and impartial nature, and our focus on supporting local efforts without imposing an agenda of our own, enables us to work with all relevant Iraqi parties. As a result, we have been able to foster trusting relationships with political actors from across the political spectrum in Iraq.
CMI’s work remains resolutely independent of all official talks and contacts and is based on the primacy of local ownership. In our work we highlight the importance of Iraqis setting their own agenda, visions and strategies, while we provide the space and opportunity to hold constructive discussions and offer expert advice, where this is considered useful by the actors involved.
CMI remains accessible to all the relevant actors at every step of the informal dialogues, thereby helping to ensure the best possible convergence between the various unofficial efforts to bring about a peaceful and prosperous Iraq.
- In Iraqi society there is a growing awareness of the need for comprehensive changes
- CMI’s work in Iraq is focused on supporting local efforts towards reconciliation, peace and stability through informal dialogue and expert support
- CMI’s work remains resolutely independent of all official talks and contacts and is based on the primacy of local ownership
Supporting an inclusive transition process in Libya
CMI facilitates national- and local-level dialogue in order to support efforts towards peace in Libya.
Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, Libya’s political actors have failed to establish a new, inclusive order. Libyan society continues to suffer from the country’s severe fragmentation of power and political polarization, with a proliferation of armed groups. Political divides are shaped by regional, ideological, economic and societal cleavages. Elites that prospered under the Gaddafi regime and new, post-revolutionary elites continue to fight for political power and resources.
To support an inclusive and peaceful transition process in Libya, CMI facilitates national- and local-level dialogue among the relevant stakeholders, including political parties, civil society organization and tribal entities to jointly tackle the root causes of tension and conflict. Over the coming years CMI will continue to create spaces for encountering and communication to various stakeholders, in order to enhance mutual trust and help overcome the persisting divisions between the country’s political and social groups.
- The political situation in Libya is increasingly polarized and fragmented, and armed groups continue to proliferate
- Political divides are shaped by regional, ideological, economic and social divisions, with ongoing struggles for political power and resources
- To support an inclusive and peaceful transition process in Libya, CMI facilitates national- and local-level dialogue among the relevant stakeholders to jointly tackle the root causes of tension and conflict
Supporting Palestinian dialogue
CMI together with its local partner supports efforts towards Palestinian reconciliation.
Palestinian politics and society remain divided despite several agreements between rival groups. Internal struggles have made it increasingly difficult for broader Palestinian society to be part of the political process. Internal division hinders democratic development in Palestinian society, with seriously harmful consequences for the entire population.
Since 2010, CMI and its local partner Masarat have supported the national reconciliation process in Palestine. We work to bring together in informal dialogue a wide group of Palestinian actors from Gaza, the West Bank, the Palestinian community in Israel, and Palestinian diaspora. With this effort we aim to create mutual trust, and develop broadly acceptable solutions on fundamental challenges that have been overshadowed and left unresolved by internal discord and power struggles. The advantage of informal dialogue is also that all relevant actors can continue to meet and discuss together even when formal processes become stalled.
The project has so far created trust between the Palestinian stakeholders and established a wide network of actors motivated to support the Palestinian reconciliation. The dialogue has resulted in a number of concrete proposals that have been widely presented to various Palestinian actors and to the official mediator Egypt. Palestinian reconciliation can support the democratic development of Palestinian society, and in the long run also contribute greatly to peace and security throughout the Middle East.
- Efforts to create reconciliation in Palestine remain hampered by internal disputes
- CMI and its local partner Masarat in Palestine continue to create spaces for mutual trust and inclusive dialogue
- Informal talks amongst Palestinians from all sectors of society both at home and abroad have led to a number of concrete proposals, which have been presented to the relevant actors
Enhancing the inclusiveness of peacemaking efforts in Yemen
CMI facilitates informal dialogue among all key Yemeni constituencies on critical national questions.
After the first promising three years of transition, Yemen spiralled into a complex conflict that has brought the political process in the country to a halt and created a severe humanitarian crisis. Much work remains to be done to build foundations for a peaceful, inclusive society. The solutions developed at the 2013-2014 National Dialogue Conference in Sana’a are broadly accepted by Yemeni society, but their implementation cannot succeed as long as widespread violence continues.
In this context, CMI facilitates informal dialogue among all key Yemeni constituencies on critical national questions. This enables entities from across the political spectrum to build mutual trust and develop joint solutions to the key issues for peace and stability in the country. We also work to enhance women’s meaningful inclusion in conflict resolution and peacemaking efforts in Yemen. CMI supports the Women’s Forum for Dialogue and Peace, an inclusive group of influential Yemeni women who aim to ensure that women’s views and needs are given weight in all negotiations to steer the country’s future in a better direction.
- The political breakdown in Yemen remains to be resolved
- Peace efforts are required for the alarming humanitarian situation and issues underlying the fighting to be addressed
- The National Dialogue recommendations are promising, but their implementation cannot succeed amidst continuing violence
- CMI facilitates informal dialogue among all key Yemeni constituencies and works to enhance women’s inclusion in peacemaking efforts in the country
For over a decade, CMI has worked to contribute to a peaceful future in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. We support ongoing peace processes in the region by engaging with national, regional and international stakeholders, both state and non-state actors. Our efforts help enable dialogue and enhance good governance in societies facing challenging political transitions and, at times, violent conflicts.
Strengthening local, national and regional conflict resolution capacities are at the core of our support strategies. We also seek to open and maintain stable channels of communication and to build confidence across conflicts divides, principally in an informal manner, in the post-Soviet space and beyond. In doing so, CMI engages regularly with regional and international organizations including the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
CMI’s experience in the region, commitment to long-term engagement, impartiality and Finnish identity uniquely enable us to pursue informal and complementary mediation efforts and to remain honest brokers in support of the most difficult peace processes in the Eurasia region.
Engagement in the crisis in and around Ukraine
CMI has supported Ukraine’s peaceful development since 2009, and since 2014 has facilitated high-level expert dialogue between political representatives and other influential public figures.
Ukraine remains in the process of transition from its Soviet institutional, economic, and socio-cultural legacy. Before the 2014 escalation of the current crisis phase, little attention was given to supporting and encouraging dialogue between and among elites and the wider society on building a shared vision of how Ukraine can, both as a state and as a nation, develop in the wake of its Soviet past.
Domestic and international dialogue
CMI has supported Ukraine’s expert community since 2009, with a focus on building a network of experts focused on conflict prevention and peacebuilding in the Black Sea Region. In early 2014, CMI began the process of supporting a high-level dialogue between representatives of Ukraine’s political and intellectual elite. In 2015, CMI began convening a regular Ukraine-Russia dialogue platform for influential experts and MPs which now also includes representatives from EU member states, the OSCE and the USA. Starting in October 2016, CMI increased its focus on capacity building for Ukrainian MPs, executives and experts, as well as deepening its cross-sectoral and inter-regional dialogue efforts inside Ukraine.
Support for national peacebuilding capacities
CMI supports Ukrainian actors in strengthening their capacities for effective engagement in the peace process. We work with many official and unofficial stakeholders from Ukrainian civil society and the expert community, and with individuals in the executive and legislative spheres. Within this component of our work we support public activities of the National Platform – Dialogue on Peace and Secure Reintegration. The objective is to ensure the ongoing functioning of a non-partisan, professional and inclusive public platform for supporting the achievement of sustainable peace in Ukraine. The Platform provides a regular, public and professionally moderated space to discuss effective policies for reintegration and ensuring national unity in Ukraine, as well as international experience of building confidence and sustainable peace. The National Platform has been in operation since February 2018, supported financially by Switzerland and Finland. Since 2019, it has been funded by the European Union.
Support for the official peace process
From 2015, CMI has worked with Ukrainian negotiators and experts engaged in the official Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk, providing expert support, international expertise and peer exchange opportunities from other peace negotiation processes and on focused topics related to the Donbas peace process.
CMI’s Ukraine work is funded through its Programme Partnership with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, Irish Government’s Development Cooperation Programme and by corporate donors from Finland’s private sector and by Finnish private philanthropists who comprise CMI’s premium donors group.
CMI supports dialogue across conflict divides and the capacities of government officials in peace mediation efforts.
A difficult process of transition that has continued since the collapse of the Soviet Union has left the South Caucasus deeply fragmented politically. With some of Eurasia’s major energy corridors and competing geopolitical interests, the region has major historical challenges and is also continually confronted with clashing geostrategic options, unstable economic development, and national and regional integration dilemmas. The three South Caucasus countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – have all chosen separate and at times opposing political paths, while trying to tackle severe domestic security and democratic development challenges.
Today, national and international actors are still searching for conflict settlement frameworks to address the unresolved statuses of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. In light of the general instability now stretching from Ukraine to Syria, the illusory convenience of the status quo is no longer an option. The year of 2018 has seen multiple unprecedented developments throughout the region, both representing potential openings of windows of opportunity in terms of moving forward the official peace-processes, but also containing the seeds for a backlash/worsening of the general atmosphere around the non-recognized entities.
Therefore, the need is more urgent than ever for reinvigorated peace processes and tackling highly militarized conflicts that have polarized and alienated societies for decades. In a region that has seen human relations deteriorating to a point of almost no return, international mediation efforts and support for official peace negotiations must be complemented with long-term social transformations.
CMI has been active in the South Caucasus since 2006, facilitating and bringing discussions about conflict settlement to a broader constituency and enabling otherwise marginalized civil society actors to participate in dialogue and to contribute with suggestions relevant to the official talks.
Dialogue efforts at civil society level – Youth Platform
Since 2010, CMI has been working with actors from all sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to establish channels of communication and increase confidence between groups of individuals isolated or deeply affected by ongoing hostilities or by the lack of progress in official negotiations.
CMI has focused its efforts on the generation that grew up in isolation from each other after the 1990s war. This is a generation with very little positive experience of co-existence. More than twenty years of living alongside violence and personal exposure to military action have polarized these young people and profoundly challenged any shared vision they could have of how a potential settlement could be developed. The attitudes of the youth in these areas range from indifference to the conflict and its consequences, to aggression and polarizing nationalist stereotyping. In these circumstances, the chances of broad societal endorsement or support for official compromise grow increasingly slim.
Almost ten years of sustained engagement by CMI, with the support of the European Union (through the European Partnership for the peaceful settlement of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, EPNK) have resulted in the creation of a cross-conflict platform of young professionals from all sides of the conflict divides. The platform’s members are currently mid-level peacebuilding actors working within their respective institutions (including NGOs, mass media, and executive and representative bodies), and strive to be able to come to terms with and positively transform their political and societal environment.
Supporting official actors
Since 2015, CMI has also focused on supporting key actors from official institutions engaged in conflict resolution in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. This support is designed to enhance peace mediation competences and to enrich the debate on these issues within each of the respective institutional systems.
Peace mediation is a very cost-effective means of conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and its value to local and regional peacemaking is widely recognized. Of vital importance to sustainable peace agreements is the ability of state actors and institutions to analyse complex conflict scenarios and explore inclusive pathways for settlements. For the official peace processes in the region to progress, the South Caucasus countries need a broad base of competent and experienced official actors who fully understand the complexities of mediation and peace processes. These actors must be able to provide analyses and recommendations within their institutions, and to the negotiators in the official talks.
In 2018, CMI together with partners in the region – NGO “European Integration” in Yerevan, Center of Excellence in EU Studies at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA) in Baku, the International Centre for Geopolitical Studies (ICGS) in Tbilisi – and with the support of the European Union and the Finnish MFA, worked to help Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian officials to learn international best practices from peace processes in Europe and elsewhere. This learning model is now being piloted in other peace processes in the region.
- CMI has been active in the South Caucasus since 2006, promoting broad-based discussion on conflict settlement and enabling participation by otherwise marginalized civil society actors
- Since 2015, CMI also works to support key actors from official institutions involved in conflict resolution in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
- An essential element in sustainable peace agreements is the capacity of state actors and institutions to analyse complex conflict scenarios and explore inclusive solutions. CMI provides support in precisely these areas.
Supporting Institutionalised and Sustainable Dialogue on Gagauzia Autonomy
CMI works to facilitate the informal dialogue process between the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and People’s Assembly of Gagauzia and provides good offices for the official political dialogue platform to improve institutional mechanisms of centre-autonomy relations.
The Gagauz autonomy was established in the south of Moldova in order to safeguard the rights of the Gagauz minority, following a period of unrest in the early 1990s. In 1994, Moldova passed a law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauz Yeri which outlined the structure of the autonomy, including a legislature (the People’s Assembly, consisting of 35 members) and an executive branch, headed by the Governor (the Bashkan). The establishment of the autonomy is seen as a successful conflict resolution model. However, implementation of the 1994 Law has been inconsistent, resulting in frequent disputes and a growing source of tension between the central Government and the autonomy.
To address these challenges, in 2015, with funding from Sweden, CMI convened an informal dialogue group made up of representatives from the Moldovan Parliament and the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia for sustained joint dialogue to build confidence between both sets of legislators and improve the functioning of the autonomy. Following this initiative, and the creation of the official Parliamentary Working Group on Gagauzia (PWG) CMI was mandated to support the work of the official PWG and decision-making dialogue platform.
The project contributes to the institutionalization and sustainability of the dialogue between the centre and the autonomy through strengthening institutions, capacities and ownership around the PWG. CMI facilitates access to all the necessary knowledge and tools, thus enabling the stakeholders to come together to find joint solutions to common issues. CMI uses its international expertise in informal mediation to facilitate the informal dialogue process providing the necessary technical support, contributes to the capacity building of both national and autonomy stakeholders as well as cooperating with academia and the expert community to ensure continuity of the dialogue process.
- The Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region was established in southern Moldova in the early 1990s to safeguard the rights of the Gagauz minority.
- In late 2015 the Moldovan Parliament launched an official initiative to create the first permanent parliamentary working group to improve the functionality of Gagauzia’s autonomy within Moldova’s constitutional framework.
- CMI provides good offices to the parliamentary platform and facilitates informal dialogue offering expert support and capacity building, and contributing to the institutionalization and sustainability of the dialogue between the centre and the autonomy.
You can find the website of the project here. The project report 2015 – 2018 can be found here and the project newsletter here. The expert report on centre-autonomy arrangements can be found here.
Transdniestrian settlement process
Since 2011 CMI has contributed to efforts towards a peaceful and equitable settlement to the Transdniestrian conflict.
The Transdniestrian conflict zone is less than 100 kilometres from the EU’s Eastern borders. Since the war in 1992, the Republic of Moldova and Transdniestria have been engaged on and off in negotiations towards a political solution for the inhabitants on both sides of the River Dniestr/Nistru. The tensions have had a serious impact on the population of both sides and have hampered the whole region’s socio-economic development. Despite years of international mediation efforts, the final settlement of the conflict remains unresolved.
CMI’s work in the region includes support to the peace process on multiple levels, focusing on building confidence between the sides, engaging with the sides on key issues where international and local expert support can be of most help and support to the formal settlement process.
Since 2011, CMI has worked to support the conflict settlement process by convening and supporting ongoing informal dialogue between high-level independent experts, former diplomats with expertise in the conflict, political analysts, former negotiators in the official settlement processand current advisers to the political leadership in Chisinau and Tiraspol. CMI’s dialogue platform members have provided briefings to international actors, directly involved in and influencing the settlement process in Vienna, Brussels, Moscow, Washington, Kyiv, and other key capitals.
Since 2017, CMI has facilitated a high-level Track 1 dialogue between the sides on issues of relevance to the confidence building measures and to complement the settlement process. Dialogue platform members haveengaged in regular exchanges on the major short-term and long-term political trends and issues that influence the settlement process.
In order to increase connectivity between local, national and international actors, CMI also facilitates regular exchanges between its dialogue platforms and relevant institutions. Over the years, CMI provided tailored support to the international actors bringing dialogue platform participants and locally generated analysis and recommendations to international actors with special focus on the OSCE.
CMI engages with Chisinau and Tiraspol on a regular basis, focusing on issues and actors that are most central to the settlement process. This has led to provision of tailored support to the political negotiators and to Track 1 working groups. CMI also uses these efforts, through facilitating events that create space for informal and open dialogue on sensitive issues, to contribute to the efforts of the negotiators, mediators and observers to find solutions based on compromise. These events make use of relevant international experience, peer exchange events, and lead to the development of analytical materials.
- CMI’s work in the Transdniestrian region includes a wide range of activities in support of the peace process
- CMI facilitates an ongoing dialogue process involving key influencers from both sides of the conflict
- Most recently, CMI has also focused on key issues related to the settlement process and providing tailored support to the OSCE chairmanships.
Conflicts in Africa are characterized by their regional impact; they are typically transnational and span across national boundaries. In this context, supporting regional approaches to conflict prevention becomes ever more important. The core principle underlying CMI’s work in Africa is that sustainable solutions to complex, and typically borderless conflicts require regional efforts and the participation of all levels of society. We support the organizations in promoting peace and security on the continent, help them build their mediation capacities, and assist in their mediation efforts.
In addition to our partnership with the African Union (AU), CMI has established institutional partnerships with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
Supporting the African Union’s mediation capacities
CMI’s long-standing work with the African Union has contributed to developing mediation and preventive diplomacy capacities in Africa.
The African Union (AU) has since its inception acknowledged the significance of peace and constructive dialogue in creating stability and in maintaining safety for the continent and its inhabitants. As a result, the AU has aimed to resolve conflicts through mediation and sought diplomatic solutions to disputes.
In 2021, the AU went through an institutional reform that, among other things, saw the merger of the former Peace and Security Department (PSD) and the Department for the Political Affairs (DPA), establishing the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department (PAPS). We provide the AU and in particular the PAPS with needs-based operational support in contexts where such assistance can make a substantial contribution to the AU’s capacity to design, implement, and support any given mediation process. CMI’s support includes wide-ranging advisory services and other expertise ranging from process design and facilitation of thematic areas including national dialogues, gender, and inclusion to supporting with logistical arrangements of preventive diplomacy and mediation deployments of high-level AU officials.
In collaboration with African non-state actors, the AU, and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), CMI has gathered data on the added value of non-state actors in mediation processes and has produced recommendations for deepening collaboration between non-state actors and regional organizations. Read more here .
Through this project, CMI has been strengthening the mediation interventions within the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) specifically through the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise) and the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa).
PanWise is an umbrella network, bringing together AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC), the Panel of the Wise (a five-person panel that support the PSC and the Chairperson of AU Commission) and similar structures within the RECs and Regional Mechanisms, to promote a more concerted and inclusive approach to preventive diplomacy. Whereas FemWise-Africa aims at professionalizing the role of women in preventative diplomacy and mediation and ensuring a channel for women’s meaningful and effective participation in peace processes. Read more about CMI’s work with FemWise-Africa here .
CMI continues in its commitment to the AU and to the use of conflict prevention and mediation as tools of intervention with the aim to bring long-lasting solutions. The support to AU’s work is therefore crucial to attaining sustainable peace, security and stability in Africa.
CMI’s work in the Sahel region aims to increase the inclusivity of peace processes and to provide spaces for national level dialogues, promoting confidence-building among conflict stakeholders. In the Lake Chad Basin region, CMI supports addressing the root causes of violence through dialogue, with a focus on the Youth, Peace and Security agenda.
The Sahel is a geographical region stretching from Senegal to Djibouti, on the southern side of the Sahara desert. The multiple ongoing conflicts in the Sahel generally stem from democratic governance deficits, which have led to a lack of basic services in remote areas. Furthermore, the gap between the urban elites and the rural population is continuously widening in this region.
In some cases, violent extremist groups have stepped in to fill the power vacuum left by the absence of central governments. During 2022, violence by armed groups has intensified especially in central Mali and northern Burkina Faso. According to a civil society report, 8 civilians on average die from violence every day in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Despite the several extensive multi-national military operations to counter violent extremism in the region, instability is gradually spreading to the south towards the coastal West African states.
A more comprehensive approach needed
Climate change and rapid population growth are fueling conflicts by intensifying competition over scarce resources between communities. In addition, in many cases the multiple and overlapping crises have an inter-communitarian layer.
The response by regional and international actors has mostly consisted of military and military training operations. They have been accompanied by large development and humanitarian components, but progress has been slow and results patchy in the volatile context.
However, there are signs that some countries in the region are opening up for community-based mediation efforts and national- or local-level dialogue initiatives. These types of initiatives are welcomed alternatives to the purely military approach. It is essential that women, youth and marginalized minority groups are included in these dialogue processes, in order to commit all parts of the society in the results. You can read a story about the importance of including women’s views in peacebuilding here.
CMI promotes non-military solutions and inclusive dialogue
CMI sees that a lasting peace in the Sahel region can only be achieved through inclusive and dialogue-focused peace-making processes.
In its Sahel project initiated in 2021, CMI contributes to selected national level peace processes by promoting dialogue and a more comprehensive approach to tackle violence, more inclusive peace processes and confidence-building among conflict stakeholders. The project builds on CMI’s long track record with trusted contacts and networks within the national contexts and the international community in the Sahel region.
As a trusted partner in the region, CMI cooperates with national governments and non-government actors as well as regional organizations, such as ECOWAS. Furthermore, complementarity is ensured through coordination of efforts with the other organizations working on peacebuilding in the Sahel area.
Changing patterns of conflict in the Lake Chad Basin
The crisis of the Lake Chad Basin (LCB) region gained international attention as from 2009 due to the violence exercised by the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. Still today attacks are frequently carried out by religious extremist groups in Nigeria as well as in bordering areas in Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The patterns of extremist activity have further complexified after the death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in 2021.
Millions of people have been forced from their homes, and almost 10 million people are in need of humanitarian support to survive. Once a wealthy hub for continental and international trade, the region has turned into one of the poorest and most under-developed in the world. Rapid population growth and the disastrous impact of climate change on livelihoods increase the complexity of the regional crisis. To improve the situation, security, humanitarian and development needs cannot be addressed in a siloed manner.
Women and youth not sufficiently represented
The severe neglect caused by a long-term governance deficit has harmed the trust between local populations and state actors. The combination of the governance gap, frustration and vulnerability has been used by the extremist groups to gain influence and recruit especially young people for their purposes.
The often-limited participatory space, resources and capacities of citizens prevent them from contributing to find solutions to the situation. Especially women and youth are not sufficiently represented and participating in decision-making spaces despite being the most affected.
An additional challenge is posed by the impact of climate change on already scarce resources and vulnerable rural communities. It has compounded conflict drivers and weakened the ability of communities to build resilience in the crisis context.
CMI supports regional peacemaking initiatives
Arms have proven insufficient to achieve human security and stabilization in the Lake Chad Basin. A complementary and coordinated approach to address the root causes is therefore needed. Accordingly, a Regional Stabilization Strategy (RSS) for the key crisis-affected areas was developed by the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the African Union (AU) in 2018. The RSS provides the overarching framework for the tailored support provided by CMI. Our support is furthermore based on the needs of and demands of stakeholders in the LCB as well as on complementarity to activities of peer and partner organizations or other regional and international actors.
CMI believes that sustainable conflict resolution in the Lake Chad Basin can only be achieved if it entails inclusive cross-border dialogue and efforts to strengthen political cooperation and regional ownership. CMI therefore supports the agency of civil society actors, especially youth, so that they can meaningfully engage and contribute to the sustainability of peace processes.
Earlier, CMI supported the LCB Governors’ Forum and contributed to the enhanced meaningful engagement of civil society actors in the regional stabilization and peacebuilding efforts. Currently, CMI supports the activities and builds the capacity of the Youth Network for the Lake Chad Region, a network of young peacebuilders with sections in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
CMI works in the Red Sea region to promote dialogue among key regional actors on addressing transnational threats to peace and security.
The Red Sea forms a unique region, bridging the African continent and the Middle East, and forming an important global trade route. The area comprising the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa is also a theatre for several overlapping conflict systems at local, national, regional and geo-strategic levels, characterized by shifting alliances and instability, but also by intense economic, political and social exchange between the two shores. In large part, Yemen remains the only open widespread armed conflict, but the potential for spill-over and a resurgence of other conflicts remains a tangible threat.
CMI works in the Red Sea region to promote dialogue among key regional actors on addressing transnational threats to peace and security, and to enhance political, security and economic cooperation between Red Sea national, regional and sub-regional actors.
CMI’s dialogue-driven approach aims to provide informal venues to enable networking and discussion among stakeholders around the Red Sea, to share information and analysis from the region and feed this into policy discussions and decision-making, as well as to support regional actors working to develop multilateral frameworks for cooperation.
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa region remains one of the most unstable regions in the world, with several fragile peace processes, political transitions and unresolved conflicts. Domestic conflicts are highly influenced by broader regional and global dynamics and actors. Certain core issues are at play across the region, including the choice between inclusive democratic governance and authoritarianism, strained centre-periphery relations, a widening of the rural-urban divide, demands for inclusion and aspirations of new generations.
Through the project Enhancing constructive dialogue and cooperation on peace and security in the Horn of Africa, funded by the European Union, CMI works to promote better and shared understanding between national stakeholders and regional and international actors concerning conflict dynamics in the Horn, to enable informed policy-making decisions that contribute to peace and stability in the region. The specific objectives of the project are to:
- Increase the connectivity, engagement and trust between key regional and international actors relevant to conflict prevention and resolution processes in the Horn of Africa through the provision of spaces for dialogue
- Enhance the understanding by key regional and international actors of conflict dynamics, scenarios and policy options for conflict prevention and resolution in the Horn of Africa
CMI has been involved in supporting peace efforts in the Great Lakes region since 2014 in particular in Burundi ahead of and following the 2015 political crisis. CMI’s work has focused on supporting dialogue among parties in order to promote peaceful engagement in the political environment, in particular related to elections. In this respect, CMI also accompanied and complemented the East African Community-led facilitation process led by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa. These formal regionally led mediation efforts have since then ended and the dialogue process internalised and CMI remains engaged with the parties informally.
CMI follows a confidential and discreet approach and provides safe, informal spaces where ideas can be explored, exchanged and tested towards finding common ground for peaceful solutions. Following the legacy of CMI’s founder, former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, our engagement in Burundi is based on CMI’s core principles of acting as an honest broker, local ownership, inclusivity, complementarity and integrity.
CMI has since 2020 worked in support of the democratic transition and the broader peace process in Sudan. Weak institutions and governance practices have proved to be a dire structural challenge to the success of democratic transition in Sudan. Decades of authoritarian rule have marginalized swathes of the population whose diverse perspectives and priorities are not represented in the political arena. CMI is working to create a conducive environment for Sudan’s transition and creates informal spaces for dialogue in support of the official process, while prioritising the meaningful participation of women and the engagement of political movements and groups. CMI also works towards addressing the root causes of the conflict in Sudan supported by digital technology and innovative means.
Women in Peacemaking
Women are the largest group affected by violent conflicts and yet systematically excluded from their resolution. This reality is recognized by the international community , but real change on the ground is slow to come. Gender equality and inclusivity are core operating principles of CMI. In our work, we strive to highlight the indispensable role of women in building and sustaining peace, and aim to widen the space for women to participate in peace processes. If we miss out on half of the population in efforts to resolve conflicts, we miss opportunities for a better peace.
Promoting women’s role in peace processes
One of the key principles guiding CMI’s work is inclusivity.
In 2000, the United Nations adopted a ground-breaking Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the first of eight such resolutions recognising women’s rights as indispensable to international peace and security. Despite these normative advances, women and their views are still gravely underrepresented in peace processes worldwide. CMI works to change this reality by supporting women in conflict-affected countries to access and influence peace processes; and by enhancing inclusive and gender-sensitive mediation capacities.
Inclusivity as a key principle
Inclusivity is one of CMI’s core operating principles. We highlight the importance of women’s participation in building and sustaining peace, and work to create a greater role for women in peace processes. Concretely, we do this by supporting women from diverse social and political backgrounds in conflict-affected countries to come together and build consensus on the issues that matter to them, and to advance these priorities in conflict resolution processes. For instance, in Libya CMI supports an informal working group of civil society leaders to advance key issues concerning women in the country’s transition to peace and stability.
Advancing gender-sensitive mediation
Another way CMI advances inclusivity in conflict resolution is by promoting gender-sensitive mediation. One of our goals is to make it standard practice for gender considerations to be included in all stages of peace processes and subsequent agreements.
CMI promotes a nuanced understanding of gender in peace and conflict, and supports mediators in tackling these issues in practice. An important part of our work in this regard is our annual High-Level Seminar on Gender and Inclusive Mediation, organised in partnership with United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO).
Read our article on debunking the myths about gender in peace mediation here.
CMI works with women mediator networks
CMI is an operational partner of the Nordic Women Mediators, a growing network of peace and security professionals that aims to advance the inclusion of women at all levels of peace processes from grassroots efforts to high-level negotiations. In this capacity, CMI also supports the collaboration between regional women mediator networks across the globe. These networks play a role in promoting inclusive conflict resolution practices and mobilising support to women in ongoing peace processes.
Read more about the network and other partner organisations here.
- CMI supports women’s role in conflict resolution and peace processes
- CMI contributes to gender-sensitive and inclusive mediation practice by providing tools and strategies to mediators and peace support actors
Policy and Learning
CMI’s focus on policy and learning is aimed at creating positive feedback loops between thematic topics identified and informed by CMI’s work and learning from key national, regional, and international actors. These topics are based on CMI’s internal learning mechanisms, centred on internal reviews and critical friend practices, combined with CMI access, networks and analysis. Selected topics are certain to develop further in accordance with local dynamics and emerging trends.
Digital Peacemaking at a Glance
Digital technologies are playing an increasingly important role in exacerbating conflicts and in the conduct of peacemaking, thus creating new risks and opportunities for peacemakers. On the one hand, not only can digital technologies be used to fuel tensions through the conduct of cyber-attacks or the dissemination of hate speech and disinformation, but they can also be used to derail dialogue processes through the leaks of sensitive information or the targeting of participants. On the other hand, peacetech – or digital technologies designed to support peacemaking efforts – can, inter alia, be used to better understand conflict, to render peace processes more inclusive, to better communicate about a process, to increase the security of exchanges between participants or to enable more efficient collaboration between conflict stakeholders.
More than Tech for Peace
Although the use of digital technologies for peacemaking has alarming downsides, mastering their use bears many benefits. In addition to opening new avenues for peacemaking in practice, the use of digital technologies may have a positive impact on other, cross-cutting issues, by improving inclusion and lowering environmental impact. For example, digital technologies can help identify and integrate conflict stakeholders’ views and interests in an ongoing or upcoming process, overcome logistical challenges preventing some from participating, better inform conflict stakeholders and reduce the costs of consultations. Furthermore, as virtual dialogue becomes more common, the use of digital technologies may lead to reductions in travel-related CO2 emissions, which constitute a significant share of the emissions generated through peacemaking.
Building on CMI’s experience in peacemaking and existing trust built with conflict stakeholders through years of engagement in conflict resolution, CMI aims to introduce digital technologies in peacemaking processes to complement traditional methods. The implementation of new technologies is always a response to a practical need identified by peacemakers and we therefore work in close collaboration with such actors to support their work. Furthermore, aligned with CMI’s key principle of inclusivity, we aim to leverage the potential of digital technologies to increase the inclusivity of peace processes and contribute to gender equality. Lastly, in order to succeed in digital peacemaking, we collaborate closely with Finnish and international organisations and technology companies to tap into the technological expertise necessary for the development of suitable digital solutions.
Shaping the Future of Digital Peacemaking
Strengthening the integration of digital technologies in CMI’s operations and driving change within the industry constitutes the logical continuation of work the organisation started back in 2004 with its first exploration of digital technologies. In addition to benefitting from an established track record in using digital solutions, CMI is building on a strong network of partners in the technology, innovation and cybermediation sectors. CMI is a member of the CyberMediation Network, which aims to inform mediation practitioners about the impact of digital technologies on mediation. CMI also works in close collaboration with a rich set of actors, from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UNDPPA). With the support from and proximity with a very rich and innovative technology and start-up sector in Finland, the organisation finds itself well-placed to position itself as a leader in digital peacemaking.