SOAS University of London

Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice

Middle Tier Peacebuilders


Leading from the Middle

Assessing the Role of ‘Go-Between’ Leaders in Building Peace after Mass Conflict

Strategies for building sustainable peace after violent conflict tend to focus on two levels of leaders: national elites who negotiate peace agreements; and community actors who oversee local mediation and reconciliation efforts. 

Based on a 3-year research project overseen by Dr. Phil Clark and funded by the Fetzer Institute, this research brief highlights the critical role of a neglected intermediary level of peace actors – ‘middle tier’ or ‘go-between’ leaders who help bridge national and community-level peace processes. 

These actors connect these two levels, sharing community-level needs and insights ‘upwards’ with national elites and helping translate national dialogues ‘downwards’ in ways that are comprehensible and responsive to local communities. Middle tier leaders are defined by their membership and mobility: they are typically full participants in national and local peace endeavours, who move regularly between these levels, sharing ideas and information. Because they occupy multiple spaces and belong to multiple constituencies, these individuals play a vital bridging role and are critical to the legitimacy and sustainability of peace processes around the world. 

The research brief that summarises the key findings from this project is available here

The three public dialogues that formed part of this project – involving go-between leaders from Colombia, Sri Lanka and Uganda – can be viewed here: 

For further information, please contact Phil Clark (Reader in Comparative and International Politics and Co-Director of the Centre for Conflict, Rights and Justice, SOAS) at