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university of tampere: faculty of social sciences: research: tampere peace research institute (tapri): research projects:
Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of TampereFaculty of Social Sciences
Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI)

Inclusive Mediation and Conflict Prevention: The Finnish Model

Project leader: Professor Tarja Väyrynen

Funded by the Prime Minister’s Office

Research Theme:

The research project explores the role of local women’s NGOs in violent conflicts and the efforts of Finnish NGOs to support the mediation work of such organisations and women peacemakers. The peacemaking activities of women’s NGOs are approached through the cases of Burundi and Colombia, which offer highly relevant examples of women’s long-term involvement in local mediation and conflict resolution efforts. The case studies are complemented with the analysis of the work of three Finnish NGOs – the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), Finn Church Aid (FCA) and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (Felm) – to examine the ways Finnish actors can support the mediation work carried out by local women’s organisations. In terms of women’s participation, Finland has been active in promoting the UN Security Council’s landmark resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. At the same time, Finnish NGOs have made inclusivity a cross-cutting theme in their activities, and supported women’s peace efforts in various projects globally.

Women’s NGOs are often one of the fundamental sources of continuity, flexibility and persistence in the peace efforts of local civil society actors. They co-operate with the first track conflict resolution processes and with each other over long periods of time and throughout different phases of the conflict cycle. However, this is an under-studied subject, and there is little academic research on the activities of these types of NGOs and on the support they might need. More systematic, theoretically informed research is important in order to, on the one hand, identify the most effective ways to support the peace efforts of local women actors and, on the other hand, contribute to the long-term, innovative development of Finnish mediation approaches through co-operation between the state, civil society organisations and academia.

The research project focuses on three key areas where Finnish mediation and peace-building can have an added value, namely, gender-sensitive mediation, the inclusion of marginalised groups and local ownership in mediation. The objectives of the two case studies are to (1) examine the role of local women’s NGOs in the different phases of the mediation and conflict resolution continuum from prevention to post-conflict reconstruction and (2) to study how such organisations contribute to comprehensive, sustainable, inclusive and participatory peace processes. The third component of the study looks at the issue from the point of views of the Finnish NGOs. It aims to (3) identify the ways in which inclusivity and women’s participatory engagement is present in the NGOs’ work and to explore possibilities for developing stronger collaboration between official and non-official actors.

The topics will be examined through qualitative analysis of interviews, project documents of NGOs and other material, building on the researchers’ earlier work on the issues and countries studied. The project will also generate policy recommendations on ways to effectively support women’s civil society organisations throughout the conflict cycle – particularly in terms of local mediation efforts and early warning mechanisms – and on the development of forms of Finnish co-operation in inclusive and participatory mediation by linking theoretical knowledge to the practical mediation efforts of the Finnish NGOs.

Research Project Members:

Professor Tarja Väyrynen (project leader)

Dr. Élise Féron (case study on Burundi)

Dr. Sara Koopman (case study on Colombia)

Dr. Marko Lehti (report on the Finnish NGOs)

Maiju Lepomäki (research assistant)

Selected Publications of the Research Group:

Féron, Élise. 2017: “Gender and Peace Negotiations: Why Gendering Peace Negotiations Multiplies Opportunities for Reconciliation.” In Reconciliation as Preventive Negotiation, edited by Mark Anstey and Valérie Rosoux. New York, NY: Springer, forthcoming.

Féron, Élise. 2017. “Support Programs for Male Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.” In Alleviating World Suffering, edited by Ron Anderson, 335-347. New York: Springer.

Lehti, Marko, and Jenny Saarinen. “Mediating Asymmetric Conflicts.” In Nordic Approaches to Peace Mediation: Research, Practices and Policies, edited by Marko Lehti, 11-92. Tampere: Tampere University Press, TAPRI Studies in Peace and Conflict Research, no. 101, 2014.

Lehti, Marko. 2016. "Multiple Histories and Peace Mediation." In The Use and Abuse of History, edited by Antti Blåfield, 234-263. Helsinki: Siltala.

Koopman, Sara. “Alter-Geopolitics: Other Securities Are Happening.” Geoforum 42 (3): 274–284. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.01.007

Koopman, Sara. “Making Space for Peace: International Protective Accompaniment in Colombia.” In Geographies of Peace: New Approaches to Boundaries, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, edited by Fiona McConnell, Nick Megoran and Philippa Williams, 109-130. New York, NY: I.B. Tauris.

Väyrynen, Tarja. 2010. “Gender and Peacebuilding.” In Critical Advances in Peacebuilding: Critical Developments and Approaches, edited by Oliver P. Richmond, 137-153. London: Palgrave.

Väyrynen, Tarja. 2012. “Gendering the EU’s Peace Mediation with Critical Reflexivity.” In Strengthening the EU’s Peace Mediation Capacities, edited by Tanja Tamminen, Tanja, 103-108. Helsinki: The Finnish Institute of International Affairs.


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