Research and practice show that the success and sustainability of a peace process depends on the representation and inclusion of all stakeholders. For several years, mediatEUr’s work has been focused on creatively linking the different tracks of mediation and dialogue processes. It was in this spirit that mediatEUr developed its VOICES of Syria project, which was funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation. The over-arching aim of this project was to create conditions amenable to inclusive multi-track mediation on the Syrian conflict.
VOICES is a collaborative, online dialogue-mapping platform that captures and presents the opinions of a large number of stakeholders on complex issues through interactive maps and diagrams that are visually appealing and easy to navigate. The platform has been constructed as a living document that can be updated and adapted to the evolving contexts of conflicts.
mediatEUr mapped the voices of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan through focus groups in collaboration with local partners. Discussions revolved around six core questions eliciting forward-thinking perspectives on the conflict and the situation of those who have become refugees. The platform was then built to guide readers through key issues, recommendations and action points, showcasing the synergies and interplay between issues and the conditions needed for the return of Syrian refugees.
VOICES was launched with a roundtable discussion on “Connecting Tracks in Peace Processes through Online Networks” in December 2019. The roundtable discussion explored how technologies and online networks can be used to bring the concerns and perspectives from grassroots discussions to political and high-level discussions. Representatives from the EEAS, the United Nations and peacebuilding organisations participated in the discussions.
With technology becoming an inherent element of life and thus the process of building peace, it is essential that we continue to pioneer and grow initiatives like VOICES in order to keep the practices of mediation and conflict resolution fit for the digital age.
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Mediation is vital in ensuring different sides of a conflict arrive at an agreement. We improve mediation processes by providing support and advice to mediators and peace negotiations.