• negotiation;
  • mediation;
  • armed conflict;
  • war;
  • peace process;
  • civil society;
  • participation;
  • inclusion

Civil society is generally seen as an important actor in peace processes. But when it comes to reaching an agreement during peace negotiations, much of the current debate is centered on the question of including or excluding civil society. Although most researchers argue that civil society participation makes the process more sustainable and democratic, most practitioners emphasize that enhanced civil society participation makes it more difficult to reach a peace agreement.

I argue that practitioners and theorists must both move beyond this dichotomy and, instead, focus on the variety of ways in which civil society actors can be included in a given negotiation process. To this end, I present in this article a comprehensive overview of nine models of inclusion, from most to least direct involvement of civil society, supported by illustrative case studies. Analysis of these models suggests that it will be possible to broaden the participation of civil society in peace negotiations without decreasing the negotiations' effectiveness.