As more emphasis is placed on the role of national and local efforts in peacebuilding, support organizations may increasingly look for opportunities to bolster national and local facilitator networks. This report shares findings from a meta-review commissioned by the United States Institute of Peace that examined networks it supported in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Tunisia. It provides recommendations for creating and sustaining networks that successfully operate with the resources and technical assistance available.

The Network of Iraqi Facilitators (pictured in Baghdad in 2015) has successfully facilitated districtlevel peace agreements across the Salahaddin and Nineveh Provinces and conducted dialogue processes in other locations in Iraq.
The Network of Iraqi Facilitators (pictured in Baghdad in 2015) has successfully facilitated districtlevel peace agreements across the Salahaddin and Nineveh Provinces and conducted dialogue processes in other locations in Iraq. (USIP Photo)

Summary

There is widespread agreement that leveraging, strengthening, or creating a network in the pursuit of social change can have an impact greater than the sum of the network’s parts, and this holds true for networks engaged in conflict resolution. To better understand how and under what conditions facilitator networks can be effective in different conflict-affected settings, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) commissioned a meta-review of the facilitator networks it has supported in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Tunisia.

Drawing on a variety of sources—project documentation, interviews with USIP staff and network leaders, interviews with or surveys of facilitators, a literature review, and interviews with other organizations supporting facilitator networks—the meta-review found that viable, effective, and sustainable networks share several key traits. They have a clear management structure that is fit for purpose and that adequately supports its members; they carefully select members and provide them with opportunities for capacity building; and they have access to sufficient human and financial resources to support operations over the long term.

In assessing how best to design, manage, and sustain facilitator networks, the review found that members of effective networks engage frequently with one another and with the network’s management structure. They also have a shared vision of their network and sense of ownership concerning it. The review found further that a network’s effectiveness in mitigating and resolving conflict is contingent on a number of factors: the most effective facilitator teams have clearly defined roles, represent the relevant identity groups, have diverse skill sets and strong local knowledge, have the capacity to carry out an accurate conflict analysis, are committed to working as part of the network for the long term, and are adequately compensated.

This report is aimed at the wider peacebuilding community; in addition to identifying good practices for USIP-supported facilitator networks, it reveals patterns applicable to other aspects of USIP’s work.

About the Report

This report is based on a meta-review, commissioned by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), of five facilitator networks the Institute nurtured in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Tunisia. Similar efforts by other organizations were also assessed. The report identifies factors that help make networks viable, effective, and sustainable and presents findings relevant to the wider peacebuilding community.

About the Authors

Ruben Grangaard is a monitoring, evaluation, and learning director at DAI. At the time this report was written, he was a program officer on the Learning, Evaluation, and Research team at the United States Institute of Peace. Carlisle Levine is president and CEO of BLE Solutions, LLC, an evaluation consulting firm based in the United States with global experience and expertise in advocacy, peacebuilding, and rights evaluation.

Related Publications

 Une ville du Sahel conçoit un moyen d'améliorer les réformes – et l'aide internationale

Une ville du Sahel conçoit un moyen d'améliorer les réformes – et l'aide internationale

Friday, October 15, 2021

By: Jasmine Dehghan ; Sandrine Nama

La recrudescence cette année des troubles violents dans le Sahel en Afrique – des attaques djihadistes élargies, des coups d'État ou des tentatives militaires dans quatre pays, ainsi que le nombre constamment élevé de victimes civiles – souligne que des années de travail pour renforcer les forces militaires et policières n'ont pas réussi à réduire l'instabilité. Pour réduire l'extrémisme et la violence, les pays doivent améliorer la gouvernance, et des analyses récentes soulignent le besoin particulier de renforcer le sentiment des gens que leurs gouvernements peuvent assurer la justice et trouver des résolutions équitables aux griefs populaires. Un tel changement est une tâche extrêmement complexe et une ville du Burkina Faso a élaboré un plan de réformes locales avec un processus pour gérer cette complexité.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Democracy & Governance

A Sahel Town Builds a Way to Improve Reforms—and Foreign Aid

A Sahel Town Builds a Way to Improve Reforms—and Foreign Aid

Thursday, October 14, 2021

By: Jasmine Dehghan; Sandrine Nama

This year’s escalation of violent turmoil in Africa’s Sahel—widened jihadist attacks, military coups or attempts in four nations, and continued high civilian casualties—underscores that years of work to reinforce military and police forces have failed to reduce instability. To undercut extremism and violence, countries must improve governance, and recent analyses underscore the particular need to build people’s confidence that their governments can provide justice and fair resolutions of popular grievances. Such change is an immensely complex task—and one town in Burkina Faso has shaped a plan for local reforms with a process to manage that complexity.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Democracy & Governance

Making Sense of North Korea’s Missile Test

Making Sense of North Korea’s Missile Test

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

By: Frank Aum

North Korea announced on September 13 that it had tested long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. It described the missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance.” The test caused alarm in North Korea’s neighbors — South Korea and Japan, both U.S. allies — as the revelation now puts both countries within striking distance. But despite the test, a spokesperson for the Biden administration said the United States remains prepared to engage with North Korea. USIP’s Frank Aum discusses the significance of the tests, the arms race on the Korean Peninsula, and what signals North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be sending to the United States with this latest test. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Is there a Negotiated Path to Democratic Coexistence in Venezuela?

Is there a Negotiated Path to Democratic Coexistence in Venezuela?

Monday, August 2, 2021

By: Keith Mines

The scale of the Venezuela crisis is unique in recent history, with wartime indicators of hunger, refugees, and human rights abuses but conventional violent conflict largely absent. At the heart of the crisis is a 20-year struggle between the Chavista regime and the democratic opposition, characterized for most of these two decades by each side attempting to eliminate the other from the political map. Negotiations are seen by most outside observers as the only way the conflict will definitively end and there have been consistent efforts to bring the two sides to the table, most recently in Barbados and Oslo in 2019.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

View All Publications