A set of factors either enables or constrains local civil society’s role as peacebuilder. These factors are both external and internal to civil society (CS), and can be local, regional and/or international. There are three main sets of factors known from research. The first set of factors consists of the national or local context conditions, such as the level of violence, the behaviour of the state and powerful elites in the country, as well as the features of national or local media. The next set of factors is internal to civil society itself. This set encompasses how different CS actors engage and cooperate as forces for peace, or to what extent CS is divided by politics, ethnicity, religion, etc. A third set of factors operates at the regional or international level, and encompasses whether external actors, including powerful regional actors, support peace in a given context, as well as whether donors and the international peacebuilding community give support that is relevant, timely and effective.
Frequently, international peacebuilders restrict the space for local CS by pursuing inappropriate or insufficient strategies. I want to briefly discuss only three factors here, namely power, violence, and the potential constraining role of external peacebuilders.