It was not how we imagined it: A story of dialogue, conflict and peacebuilding in Bolivia

2011 20 Oct 2011
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Between 2006 and late 2008, the discussion and approval of the constitutional project was the main source of political and social conflict in Bolivia. This report highlights the contributions and lessons learned from the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme's intervention in Bolivia´s political crisis, especially in the National Dialogue process held between September and October of 2008, which led to the approval of the Constitution.

Highlights:

  • The Bolivian experience shows that institutions are paramount for tackling conflicts in times of high tension and political polarization; peaceful conflict resolution and effective dialogue will happen within strong, transparent, efficient institutions that are accountable to its citizens.
  • The UN’s international observation was crucial in helping to sustain dialogue and avoid talks to break down despite tensions.
  • Through governance programs and projects, UNDP provided technical advice in relevant areas of conflict prevention and supported spaces for dialogue between political and social actors, helping to maintain communication and exchange of diverse ideas and views
  • UNDP commissioned opinion polls and surveys that became a vehicle to allow citizens’ voices to be heard by political actors and make them clearly aware that Bolivians rejected violence and demanded dialogue.
  • UNDP built prospective scenarios and political analysis in support of peacemaking efforts that proved useful at a time when most actors were highly uncertain
  • UNDP launched a national communication and advocacy campaign called Convivir, Sembrar Paz [“Coexisting, Sowing Peace”], including through TV spots that became hugely popular, calling for peace and dialogue.