A new junior fellows policy brief issued by The Centre for International Governance Innovation says that negotiators and mediators should pay greater attention to ideational interests and include marginalized stakeholders when brokering peace.

In Improving the Peace Process: Considering Ideational Stakes in Conflicts, CIGI Junior Fellows Isaac Caverhill-Godkewitsch, Vanessa Humphries, Sean Jellow and Nyiri Karakas assess nineteenth and twentieth century cases, arguing that “peace processes in the past have not sufficiently acknowledged the role of ideational stakes as grounds for perpetuating violence.” Ideational stakes are intangible ideas and concepts such as social justice, personal identity and fear as central factors in conflicts.

Rather, the authors argue, “Most traditional peace negotiations have focused on distributions of resources or territory through partition and compensation.” Neglecting to resolve ideational concerns, and failure by those parties involved in peace processes to empathize with such grievances, is problematic given their influence on prolonging conflicts. The authors recommend the following to strengthen the effectiveness of peace processes:

  • All interested stakeholder groups, including marginalized groups, should be included as legitimate actors, and dialogue should be encouraged between all at the table.
  • Peace processes must recognize the importance of historical grievances and injustices, and discussion must explicitly address and be aware of the importance and implications of different interests.
  • Peace process negotiators and mediators must understand the role and influence of international norms and actors in conflicts with ideational stakes. Understanding these norms will shed light on the behaviour of actors and how they are framed in light of contemporary international developments.
  • Peace processes should consider stakes as compatible rather than irreconcilable differences.

To read more analysis on how peace-building negotiations can be improved, please click here to download a copy of Improving the Peace Process: Considering Ideational Stakes in Conflicts. The CIGI Junior Fellows Policy Brief Series highlights the work of Master’s level students from the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA). The junior fellowship program based at the BSIA provides mentorship opportunities from CIGI’s senior scholars and policy researchers. Students are offered research assistantships, policy brief writing workshops, interactive learning sessions and publication opportunities.

About the Authors:

Isaac Caverhill-Godkewitsch is a student in the University of Waterloo M.A. program in Global Governance based at the BSIA, with a B.A. (Honours) in political science from the University of Calgary, where he was also a member of the Arts and Science Honours Academy Program. He specializes in issues concerning the environment and security, international institutions and political media.

Vanessa Humphries graduated with distinction in 2010 from the University of Ottawa with a B.Soc.Sc. in conflict studies and human rights. She recently completed the Wilfrid Laurier University Masters program in International Public Policy based at the BSIA. Her research interests are in humanitarian affairs, peace building and global public policy development.

Sean Jellow has a B.A. in political science from the University of Manitoba and has recently completed the Wilfrid Laurier University Masters program in International Public Policy based at the BSIA. He is moving on to an internship at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, and wishes to pursue a career studying global conflict and security policy.

Nyiri Karakas began to develop an interest in conflict studies while completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario. She has recently completed the Wilfrid Laurier University Masters program in International Public Policy based at the BSIA. Currently, Nyiri is developing her interest in the field of education. She is particularly interested in the work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the capacity of education to serve as a cornerstone for development and building capacity.


Kevin Dias, Communications Specialist, CIGI
Tel: 519.885.2444, ext. 7238, Email: [email protected]

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion, and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit www.cigionline.org.

The Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) was launched in 2007 to offer graduate programs in global governance and international public policy. The Balsillie School is a collaborative initiative of The Centre for International Governance Innovation, the University of Waterloo (UW), and Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier). With over 60 affiliated faculty teaching in the three programs, the Balsillie School will build on the current programming of the PhD in Global Governance (joint UW/Laurier), the MA in Global Governance (UW), and the Master’s in International Public Policy (Laurier). For more information please visit www.balsillieschool.ca.


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