Negotiating Justice? Human Rights and Peace Agreements

Originally published


The report examines human rights provisions in peace agreements, to shed some light on the role that they have in peace processes more generally. While the focus on peace agreements is somewhat artificial, it provides a clear basis for comparisons between countries. Peace agreements, even if unsuccessful, form at least 'snap-shots' of possible frameworks for moving away from violent conflict. They therefore illustrate the types of 'trade-offs' between the parties to a conflict, as well as (often) the international community, and so illustrate what the ingredients of a possible 'solution' to the conflict might be.

Given that peace agreements are the prevalent focus of negotiations, it is useful to examine how important it is for human rights protections to be in an agreement. Inevitably agreements do not deal with all issues in a conflict. Rather, they deal with some key issues (aimed at achieving or sustaining a cease-fire) and set out a 'road-map' for how further issues can be addressed and resolved, ideally transforming the conflict away from violence and towards other mechanisms of conflict resolution. A useful starting point in considering the role of human rights in peace processes is to look at what is put into agreements, what is left out, and to see whether this matters in terms of what is actually achieved in securing either 'peace' or 'human rights protections'.