Navigating Inclusion in Peace Settlements, Human Rights and the Creation of the Common Good
Bell, C. lead author (2017)
Sections of this report were co-authored with Rachel Anderson, Robert Forster, Max Jaede, Astrid Jamar, Sean Molloy, Jan Pospisil, Asanga Welikala, and Laura Wise, all of whom are researchers associated with the Political Settlements Research Programme.
• The need for joint analysis between international interveners and local actors, to develop long-term strategies for transformation, and identify likely obstacles to their success.
• The importance of continuous post-agreement support for both ongoing and ‘one-off’ mediation.
• The adoption of conflict-sensitive approaches to aid to support the delivery of social goods such as healthcare, education, or sectoral reform.
Abstract: In this report the authors argue that peace settlements often produce compromises between parties at the heart of conflict, which are difficult to deepen into broader political commitments to govern for all in the interest of ‘the common good’.
Peace agreements are usually successful at resolving the immediate violence of the conflict they address. However, politics as a self-sustaining practice – one that is underwritten by a commitment to exercise public power for the common good – is often more difficult to achieve. Many recent peace processes appear to have produced an uncertain, and sometimes transitory, peace characterised by movements towards and away from conflict and political stalemate. This report points to ways in which peace agreements based on compromise tend to institutionalise ‘formalised political unsettlement’ i.e. a situation where the root causes of a conflict are carried into the new political and legal institutions, rather than being resolved. Instead of wishing this situation away, it is more useful to recognise that formalised political unsettlement is a product of compromise, and to identify any entry points through which subsequent struggles for inclusion can continue to be addressed.
A central requirement of conflict resolution in divided societies is that visions of the state that serve the interests of only one group must be opened up to a more shared concept of the state – one that is capable of serving a broader set of interests and operating for the public good. Conflict resolution requires forging a baseline acceptance of the need for a common political community and a baseline commitment to use public power to serve that community. This implies a political pre-commitment to work in the interests of ‘the common good’.
Keywords: peace processes, concepts
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The contributions in this report are based on case studies and working papers authored as part of the British Academy project ‘Negotiating Inclusion in Times of Transition’. The country case studies of the series include briefing papers on Bosnia, Burundi, Egypt, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The conceptual working papers focus on the concept of the common good, on justice, rights and equality and on post-liberal peace.
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