The second National Dialogue Conference, held in November 2015, in particular engaged the latter aspects: what elements come together in designing a national dialogue?
National dialogues are not always termed so; likewise, regardless of the mandate received, the underlying processes are not invalidated. In embracing this diversity of design within national dialogues, the second conference sought to advance and hone the ideas developed in the first conference. As noted, national dialogues were also seen as crucial for establishing inclusion for women, youth and minority groups in wider peace processes. Particularly women’s role in peacemaking and conflict prevention has now been widely recognised by the UN, but ensuring their active inclusion on all stages of national dialogue processes remains an issue.
Once again, providing a space for learning and reflection was a key objective for the conference, coupled with a close examination of emerging cases in Somalia, Myanmar, Yemen and Tunisia. Furthermore, in addition to the reflection achieved substantively, another outcome of the second conference was to solidify the role of the event as a gathering for a wide range of actors to exchange ideas around national dialogues.
The first National Dialogue Conference, held in April 2014, approached the concept with a strong focus on learning: what makes a national dialogue?
There are diverse experiences with national dialogues, and it is impractical to focus on any one model as the way to conduct or support dialogue. By situating the discussion within the field of internal mediation and dialogue processes more widely, the first conference aimed to deepen understanding of best practices and encourage sharing, comparative learning and innovation in the conduct and support to these critical processes.
By delving into the examples of South Africa, Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, the final report of the first conference captures much of the contextual richness of national dialogues in general, and potential for identifying design and analytical elements.