Surviving the Peace: Challenges of War-to-Peace Transitions for Civil Society Organisations

This report seeks to address the question “what happens to protagonists for change once that change has been achieved?” by analysing the transformations of peace/human rights civil society organisations (CSOs) during peace processes and democratic transitions in South Africa and Guatemala. Section one clarifies the analytical ground by exploring the conceptual roots, definitional boundaries, organisational and functional characteristics, and normative understanding of CSOs, from an interdisciplinary perspective. Section two adopts a more dynamic approach, assessing the organisational and functional shifts undergone by CSOs during and in the aftermath of peace processes and democratic transitions. This literature survey is then followed, in sections three and four, by two empirical studies on CSOs in South Africa and Guatemala, where interviews were collected in April 2007 with current and former members of relevant organisations. The conclusion, finally, draws a brief comparative summary of the main findings in both case studies, and derives a few conceptual and practical implications for the research, CSO and international donor communities.

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