Exploring Potential Connections Between Peace Agreements and Human Rights Treaty Ratification

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Citation: Molloy, S. Exploring Potential Connections Between Peace Agreements and Human Rights Treaty Ratification (PA-X Report: Human Rights Series). Edinburgh: Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh.

Summary: This short report examines the relationship between peace agreements and the ratification of international human rights treaties (IHRT). It seeks to identify when and how peace agreements contribute to the ratification of IHRT.

The report sets out a number of ways that peace agreements may compel a move to treaty ratification, namely if:

  • a peace agreement includes express commitments that for the ratification of IHRT whose implementation then follows;
  • a peace agreement includes general commitments to human rights, which could serve as the basis for subsequent ratification but could take longer;
  • a peace agreement addresses specific issues (for instance, children) leading to ratification of specific human rights treaties; and
  • a peace agreement creates avenues for subsequent ratification such as, for example, improving the space for civil society actors to advocate in favour of a state committing to IHRT.

This report demonstrates that the relationship between ratification and peace agreements is varied. In some cases, ratification occurs within a relatively short period after the signing of an agreement, often 18 months or less. In other cases, the period between ratification and the signing of a peace agreement is is much longer, sometimes years. While we cannot attribute ratification only to a prior peace agreement commitment, where human rights provisions have been included in peace agreements and ratification later followed, understanding how the peace agreement might have helped promote or even require ratification is useful. While a full examination of the role that the peace agreement might have played in promoting ratification of a treaty is beyond the scope of this report, the report concludes by drawing attention to the need for further research on both the reasons for the inclusion of human rights in peace agreements and the impacts of IHRT ratification in societies emerging from conflict to peace.

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