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PSRP Researcher Presenting: Ticking the ‘ethnic box’? National minority inclusion in peace agreements
April 10, 2017 - April 12, 2017
PSRP researcher Laura Wise will present research on approaches to national minority inclusion in peace agreements, at the Political Studies Association 67th Annual International Conference on 10th-12th April, 2017. The conference is at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, and attendance is by membership only.
Ticking the ‘ethnic box’? National minority inclusion in peace agreements
In the growing body of literature on the concept of political settlements, some scholars have begun to move beyond frameworks of political economy analysis, and centre their enquiries on notions of inclusion in conflict-affected societies. Peace agreements – documents resulting from processes whereby the terms of political settlements are negotiated – can be considered as both potential sites of intervention for challenging the exclusion of marginalised groups, and outcomes of bargains in which this exclusion is reified.
Whilst there is an increasing focus on the inclusiveness of peace agreements regarding their ‘gender perspective’, similar consideration of how peace agreements deal with national minorities has often been done on a case-by-case basis. Meanwhile, marginalisation of national minorities is scrutinised by literature on inter- and supranational legal frameworks for the rights and protection of national, ethnic and linguistic minorities, but these works do not comprehensively address peace agreements as legal documents.
This paper attempts to address this gap in both peace agreements and minority rights literature by exploring the adoption of national minority rights norms and values through peace agreement provisions. Using qualitative analysis of texts from a new peace agreement database, this paper examines how national minority issues are addressed in over 1400 peace agreements signed between 1990 and 2016, focusing on the inclusiveness of provisions which refer to national, ethnic, and linguistic minority groups. In particular, it questions to what extent peace agreements provide for meaningful inclusion and representation of national minorities in political settlements, and whether agreements predominantly reference international minority rights law, or simply make non-binding rhetorical statements on the status of national minorities.
It also examines how national minorities are understood in peace processes outside the European rights regime context, or agreements where there was limited involvement of European actors in the document’s production. The paper concludes that whilst there appears to be uptake of national minority rights norms in a small number of peace agreements during this time period, there are varying degrees of commitment and comprehension, and often these provisions seem to be simply ticking the ‘ethnic box’ when faced with questions of inclusion.