This year’s overarching theme was The end of the Big Peace? Opportunities for mediation. Given increasingly atomised and internationalised conflicts in places such as Syria, Yemen and Libya, participants reflected on whether we are seeing the end of the comprehensive peace and power-sharing agreements of the 1990s, and what opportunities and challenges this poses for peacemakers. This theme resonated throughout the two days of intensive discussions, with participants emphasising the urgent need to link mediation tracks through more effective co-ordination. Track 1.5, 2 and 3 are more important than ever because formal mechanisms are struggling to produce results. Creating
co-ordinated synergies between peace process actors might well be the most appropriate response to today’s fragmented conflicts. In line with the theme of the event, participants reflected on how local agreements, such as ceasefires and humanitarian deals, can be deployed most effectively to promote nationwide stability. They also examined the risks of, and alternatives to, such agreements. Participants cited positive cases, including those from Libya and South Africa, as well as more contentious cases from Syria. Nonetheless, most participants agreed that, given growing fragmentation in conflicts, local agreements will continue to emerge in the coming years and that close scrutiny of their function and viability will continue to be needed.