Peacemaking and mediation literature has often portrayed neutral ‘outsiders’ as the most suitable mediators, given their physical and emotional distance from the parties in conflict.

However, in many parts of the world, communities in conflict prefer to deal with ‘insiders’ whom they already trust, who are part of the local society’s fabric, and who can make a long term commitment to resolving the conflict.

Regrettably, insider mediators often go unrecognised as international attention is drawn to the more visible, ‘glamorous’ aspects of high-powered diplomacy.

A new publication – The Inside Story: The impact of insider mediators on modern peacemaking – released today by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) aims to redress this deficiency by showcasing the significant contribution of insider mediators to preventing and resolving conflicts.

In The Inside Story, author Paul Dziatkowiec profiles several of HD’s insider mediators, highlighting their key roles in advancing peace processes and their critical contribution to the organisation’s mission to help prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflicts through dialogue and mediation.

The publication draws on a series of personal interviews with the organisation’s insider mediators from Indonesia, Kenya, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Thailand and Tunisia to illustrate how pivotal they are to peacemaking in their countries.

From Nilar Oo’s support for the peace process between the Government of Myanmar and the country’s ethnic armed groups, to Alice Nderitu’s efforts to help stop inter-communal violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, and Omeyya Seddik’s contribution to facilitating a peaceful democratic transition in Tunisia, The Inside Story offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of insider mediators.

It explores their motivations and methods, and unpacks the challenges they face in their daily work. These include grappling with delicate questions such as how to win the trust of conflict parties or how to maintain impartiality in the most challenging of environments.

The Inside Story also sheds light on HD’s hybrid approach to peacemaking, which seeks to make the best use of the combined skills and qualities of the organisation’s ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ in its dialogue and mediation initiatives. It is a method which has helped HD adapt to the fast-changing nature of conflict in a flexible and holistic manner.