Strengthening Preventive Diplomacy: The Role of Private Actors

 This report explores the role of private actors in preventive diplomacy. The report is structured along five main themes: (1) The comparative advantage of private actors vis-à-vis large institutions; (2) entry points, access, leverage, and resources available to private actors for preventive diplomacy; (3) challenges faced by private actors; (4) concrete experiences of private actors, especially with regard to assistance and design of political processes; and (5) strategic coordination and partnerships between private actors, the United Nations, and regional organizations.

The report finds that:

  • Private actors are strategic partners for preventive diplomacy. They possess many advantages in comparison to formal actors, despite recurring human and financial resource challenges. Private actors also fill a gap within the preventive diplomacy field by providing functions such as good analysis and network capacities, confidentiality of dialogues, access to a wider set of actors, and connections to local actors through long-standing engagements.
  • There is an emerging practice in the fields of armed violence reduction, peace mediation, and human rights protection that, if more widely applied, would represent a tremendous opportunity to strengthen preventive diplomacy. These opportunities relate to current efforts to establish networks of insider mediators (Box 1) and Armed Violence Monitoring Systems (Box 3), and to the designation of country or regional rapporteurs on conflict prevention.
  • Effective preventive diplomacy should be based on an in-depth contextual analysis and rooted within collaborative and inclusive-enough coalitions between state and society actors. Such coalitions are crucial to build confidence, as they can thereby diffuse tensions or prevent the relapse of violence. The inclusion of such coalitions in conflict-sensitive programming strategies helps nurture a culture of prevention and strengthens social capital.

The report concludes by highlighting the underlying challenge for preventive diplomacy of finding the right balance between international demands for stabilization and local demands for political space to drive transformative change.