Negotiation support to Resistance and Liberation Movements (RLMs)

Project Image Image: Berghof Foundation

This project aims to support peace negotiation processes by enhancing Resistance and Liberation Movements’ (RLMs) negotiation capacities through training, peer-to-peer learning, and process support.

Timeframe: 2009 - ongoing

This project offers negotiation training and process support to resistance and liberation movements (RLMs) in transition. Its objective is to improve conditions for political solutions to violent conflict by enhancing the negotiation capacities of these widely overlooked conflict actors. A network of RLMs was created to provide RLMs a space to share experiences, reflect on negotiation strategies and enhance capacities to enter into effective and meaningful negotiations.

Within this network, we offer policy advice and practical process support, including tailor-made support to participating groups. Annual meetings and online events provide thematic and methodological inputs and a space for actors from similar movements to engage in peer-to-peer learning. During these events, the participant groups develop practical, hands-on tools that assist their strategy-making, and collaboratively develop self-reflective studies, strategic frameworks and policy reports on issues crucial to the negotiation and conflict transformation processes.


Resistance and Liberation Movements (RLMs), are major actors in contemporary ethnopolitical conflicts. For this reason, it is vital to engage with them if any efforts at ending violence and achieving sustainable peace are to succeed. Often the adversaries to state actors, RLMs are declared criminal/terrorist outfits. Being under state pressure and persecution often makes it difficult for them to engage with mediators to explore alternative negotiated solutions to violent conflict. Cognisant of RLMs’ importance for conflict transformation, we provide them a learning/exchange space to enhance their capacities and skills in effective negotiation. We work specifically with “resistance and liberation movements” that pursue political aspirations, enjoy the support of their constituency, are formally organised and express their readiness to respect International Humanitarian Law.


Acquiring negotiation skills and learning negotiation strategies is a key need expressed by RLMs. The learning opportunities we offer them, therefore, focus on questions such as how best to prepare and improve negotiation capacities, how to create frameworks involving reluctant states, how to establish and uphold circumstances conducive to negotiations (trust-building, communication, safety and security, safety nets, etc.) and how to tackle critical negotiation topics such as security transition processes, public participation and inclusivity, power sharing and transitional justice.

By offering policy advice and practical process support to a network of RLMs, we address these questions along with numerous other negotiation-related issues selected by the groups themselves. As such, our approach is guided by the notions of ownership and mandate.

The following tasks form the core of our work:

  • Tailor-made support: Assisting individual groups in developing their own negotiation strategy through negotiation simulations, negotiation training, designing negotiation roadmaps, devising communication policies, technical support etc.;
  • Peer-advice: Facilitating peer-to-peer exchange between the RLM network members to allow them to learn from each other’s experiences. Those who have navigated peace negotiations and successfully undergone the transition process share their negotiation experience with those who are currently still in or yet to enter the process of transformation.
  • Exchange with mediators, experts and policymakers: Bringing the RLMs together with leading international experts and renowned mediators for exchange and learning on negotiation topics.
  • Reflection: Providing space for self-reflection, learning and exchange on a variety of topics, including security management, negotiation process design, international humanitarian law, national dialogue and lessons learned from failed negotiations, to name a few.
  • Policy advice: Generating recommendations for policymakers based on the experiences and outcomes of our activities.
Aims and outcomes

The main aim of this project is to support efforts generate to conducive framework conditions for the peaceful transformation of conflicts through negotiation and mediation. To this end, we organise yearly meetings and workshops where the members of the RLM network improve their negotiation skills by engaging with experts and peers. In addition, we provide targeted support to network members through tailor-made trainings on topics such as national dialogue, communication and policy strategy.

This project has several written outputs, such as the annual Strategic Frameworks series, policy reports and briefs, and self-reflective studies produced by the RLMs themselves.


Approximately 15 resistance and liberation movements (RLM) from across the globe form the network at the core of this project.

In addition, numerous renowned experts, practitioners and academics in fields such as international mediation, negotiation and international law have shared their experience and knowledge with the RLMs.


Annual Negotiation Meetings and Policy Roundtables

Since 2009, our annual meetings and policy roundtables bring together the members of the RLM network and experts, practitioners and mediators, to share experiences and knowledge on a negotiation-related topic. Some of the topics covered over the years were the Covid-19 ceasefires and their impact on asymmetric conflict and negotiation; designing effective communication strategies in negotiations; failed negotiations and national dialogues; security arrangements before, during and after negotiations; national dialogue and land rights; and international law and peace negotiations.

Tailor-made support

In addition to the annual RLM network negotiation meetings, several bilateral consultations and strategy meetings are conducted on topics selected by the individual RLMs. Some of these consultations have covered topics such as National Dialogues, effective negotiation design and engagement policy with state actors and the international community.


Publications from this project:

Strategic Frameworks

The Strategic Frameworks are one of the major outputs of the RLM project. These strategy papers draw on the discussions held, and input given, by the participants of the meetings and events we organize, and are enriched through additional research. They provide a structured and comprehensive overview of the topic and serve as a practical guiding tool for negotiators.

The Strategic Frameworks are listed in the adjacent 'Publications' tab; below are forthcoming Frameworks:

  • Resistance and Liberation Movements Facing Covid-19 & Asymmetric Negotiations: A Strategic Framework. Berlin: Berghof Foundation, 2020. (forthcoming)
  • Governance and Peace Negotiations: A Strategic Framework. Berlin: Berghof Foundation, 2020. (forthcoming)
Transitions Series

The Transitions Series is an online library of papers written by “insider experts” from the RLMs that participate in our capacity-building activities. In these papers, they reflect critically on their past or ongoing conflict transformation experience.



Project lead

Luxshi Vimalarajah
Senior Mediation Advisor - Track 1-1.5
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Team members

Joana Amaral
Rebeca Taboada Garcia


Media contact

Florian Lüdtke
Media and Communications Manager
+49 (0) 177 7052758
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