Civil Peace - Exploring the Diversity of Civil Society Involvement in Peacemaking

Project Overview

Project Leader

Project Period

  • 2022-2025

Project Participants

Project Description

This project aims to explore if and how different types of civil society actors can influence the prospects for conflict resolution in civil wars. The inclusion of civil society in civil war peace accords is identified as vital for peace. However, despite its importance, we know very little about the general patterns of peacemaking efforts by various types of civil society actors. The project breaks new ground by exploring the diversity of civil society involvement, while speaking to broader trends across cases. The novelty of the project is to, within a large-N framework: 1) move beyond a unitary focus on civil society to take into account the wide range of civil society actors involved, such as women’s groups, trade unions, and youth actors; 2) consider how such actors relate to each other, and other key actors, in particular, political parties, and 3) explore the multitude of peacemaking efforts civil society engage in. Theoretically, we develop a framework which places the actors and their interactions at center stage, focusing on how coordination and contradiction between actors can shape prospects for conflict resolution. Empirically, we use new and fine-grained data on civil society in peacemaking 1989-2018, and a novel survey experiment – facilitating analysis of both general patterns and causal pathways.


  • Nilsson, Desirée & Isak Svensson. 2023. “Pushing the Door Open: Nonviolent action and inclusion in peace negotiations.” Journal of Peace Research 60(1): 58–72.
  • Martínez Lorenzo, Luís & Desirée Nilsson. Forthcoming. “Paths to Inclusion: Civil Society Involvement during the Peace Process in Algeria” in Mediation in the Arab World, Ibrahim Freihat & Isak Svensson (eds). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Related Publications

  • Eschmann, Nathanael & Desirée Nilsson. 2023. “Better Together? Civil Society Coordination and Peace Negotiations.” Cooperation & Conflict 58(1): 42–60.

  • Elfversson, Emma & Desirée Nilsson. 2021. “The Pursuit of Inclusion: Conditions for civil society inclusion in peace processes in communal conflicts in Kenya.” Cooperation & Conflict 57(2): 171–190.

Main Financial Support

  • The Swedish Research Council

Last modified: 2023-04-05