Strategic Local Peacebuilding in Yemen: Building peace from the ground up

Project Overview:

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and Oxford Research Group (ORG) aim to lay the foundations for more effective peacebuilding efforts while contributing to the country’s eventual political transition, strengthening local capacity, and encouraging more inclusive and strategic dialogue in two of Yemen’s key regions: Marib and Hadramawt. This will mean rethinking long-held assumptions about the nature and form that the peace process should take, and requiring the exploration of new creative models, in order to forge new possibilities for lasting peace.

Also, this project seeks to ensure increased understanding of local dynamics and power relations that underlie and have emerged as a result of the current conflict in order to address them and help inform the Office of the Special Envoy of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen (OSESGY) in his peacemaking efforts.

This project is funded by the UK conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF)

Project duration: May 2018- March 2019

 

Objectives:

This one-year pilot project aims to:

  • Provide platforms to diffuse tensions and channel frustrations among groups with shared Interests at the local level in Yemen.
  • Build local capacity to participate fully in the country’s democratic development and facilitate collective strategic thinking forums.
  • Strengthen the UN-led peace process and other international peacebuilding efforts, as well as the prospects for a peaceful post-agreement transition in Yemen.

 

Activities:  This project will be broken down into three main stages:

Stage One: this stage is considered as a research and scoping phase to assess the viability of collective strategic thinking in Yemen.

  1. Host two forums for open discussion to explore ideas and gather insight from key Yemeni thinkers in Hadhramout and Marib governorates. These forums will bring together locally based and diaspora Yemenis, including academics, business professionals, economic and political analysts, and religious representatives and actors; and civil society representatives, with attention to ensuring the representation of women and youth.
  2. Bring to light key issues that need to be addressed and discussed and identify the groups that would need to be engaged in drafting a future agreement and overseeing its implementation for it to be meaningful and lasting.
  3. Identify and empower key local actors who are best placed to lead on building and shaping the groups, as well as possible participants. This groundwork will ensure local voices both guide and own the process.
  4. Explore the most appropriate tool or methodology to address the underlying issues that led to the outbreak of war following the post 2011 political transition.

 

Stage Two: Initiating safe spaces for strategic dialogue

This stage will be shaped according to the lessons learned in Stage One. It would likely consist of:

  1. Gathering representatives from the two focal governorates from the identity or interest groups identified in Stage One. At this point we would provide training in the ORG-pioneered collective strategic thinking model and work with the participants to amend or develop it according to their needs.These groups will form an ongoing societal infrastructure that will continually feed into and support future conflict-resolution efforts and the country’s peaceful transition post conflict.
  2. Creating safe spaces for the groups to meet discreetly. This stage will focus on building strategic thinking capacity and cohesion within the separate groups as well as developing investment in the broader political process by identifying key issues the groups would need to see addressed.
  3. Facilitating initial strategic engagement and cross-fertilisation across and between the groups. This may initially, for example, be simply through the sharing of ideas and reports or hosting small meetings with representatives of different groups.

 

Stage Three: Influencing policy-makers

In this stage, the lessons and insights drawn from the separate groups will be taken forward, by its members and with ORG and the Sana’a Center providing support to local and international stakeholders:

  1. Share the groups’ strategic analysis reports with high-level Yemeni decision-makers, regional and international government officials, relevant international third parties such as the UN, the United States, the European Union and other actors seeking to engage in peace-making in Yemen.
  2. Hold workshops to discuss findings in addition to facilitating and arranging face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders in Yemen, Jordan (especially OSESGY), Lebanon, Egypt and/or Brussels and the United States.