Peace Processes

What is a peace process? Who is involved? When does it begin and end? The answer changes depending on who you ask. Heidi Burgess, Founder and Co-Director of the University of Colorado Conflict Information Consortium, explores the definition of a peace process in this article published by Beyond Intractability. Burgess describes various definitions of a peace process: conflict resolution in different arenas, a series of steps moving from war to peace, or a more comprehensive view of peace with two stages, cessation of conflict and peacebuilding. Peace is not just the absence of conflict. The peace process can extend decades past a ceasefire. This long-term view of peace is necessary when developing a peace strategy during and after a conflict.

Burgess, Heidi. “Peace Processes.” Beyond Intractability. University of Colorado Conflict Information Consortium, May 2004. Web. October 2013. <http://www.beyondintractability.org/bi-essay/peace-processes>.


Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding, and Peacemaking: Concepts, Complications, and Canada’s Role

Written by Grant Dawson, this 2004 article gives a general overview that differentiates peacekeeping, peacebuilding, diplomatic peacemaking, and peace enforcement. Dawson, now a history professor at Carleton University in Ottowa, Canada, specializes in peace operations and international security. This article was written while Dawson was an analyst for the Senate Committee on National Security & Defence and advisor for the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group where he conducted research to offer non-partisan information to parliamentarians.  Dawson differentiates peacekeeping as an act that is focused on ending armed conflicts, while peacebuilding addresses the repercussions of past conflicts and works to prevent future conflicts.  He notes that peacekeeping can be accomplished through diplomacy or with military involvement. The article goes on to describe the various obstacles that peacebuilders have faced.

Dawson, Grant. “Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding, and Peacemaking: Concepts, Complications, and Canada’s Role.” Parliamentary Research Branch Library of Parliament. 17 May 2004. Web. October 2013. <http://www.betterpeace.org/files/Dawson_Peacekeeping__peacebuilding_and_peacemaking17May2004.pdf>.


Good understanding enables good solutions (Pgs. 8-11)

Conflicts are often a lot more complex than they seem. The media tends to oversimplify conflicts to raise concern. However, this can be dangerous when people or organizations try to help without the proper context. The Peace Monitor aims to provide research on peace efforts, especially successful ones.  In its 2011 report, the section “Good understanding enables good solutions” uses Darfur as an example of the pitfalls of oversimplification. In the case of Darfur, a hurried peace agreement actually led to more violence and greater mistrust of peaceful negotiations. However, the article also includes examples of successful peace agreements in Aceh, Mozambique, and El Salvador. Before any peace effort, one must understand the intricacies of the conflicts. A greater understanding will not only prevent misdirected aid, but will also lead to specialized solutions for a specific region.

Brosche, Johan. “Good understanding enables good solutions.” Peace Monitor. Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, 2011. Pgs. 8-11. Web. October 2013. <http://peacemonitor.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Peace-Monitor-2011-report.pdf>.


UN Peacebuilding: an Orientation

This source, written and published by the United Nations, defines peacebuilding and gives examples of peacebuilding efforts around the world. Since peacebuilding is a delicate matter, it is important that peacebuilders have a prioritized and reasonable set of goals tailored to their respective regions. Addressing issues like security, water access, and economic stability is imperative to strengthening a war-torn society where responsibility is placed on the citizens rather than outside organizations. Peacebuilding goals must be achievable and the efforts to achieve those goals tangible, in order to prevent a relapse into conflict. Peacebuilding is an important step in the peace process that potentially determines whether or not there will be long-lasting peace.

United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office. “UN Peacebuilding: an Orientation.” United Nations. September 2010. Web. October 2013. <http://www.un.org/en/peacebuilding/pbso/pdf/peacebuilding_orientation.pdf>.


What is Peace?

Explicitly defining peace can be just as difficult as achieving it. However, R.J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, attempts to explore the different perceptions of peace and establish his own definition.  He defines terms such as “status quo,” “positive and negative peace,” and even “conflict,” all of which appear in the rest of this section of the Reader. He describes peace as “a process of adjustment between what people, groups, or states want, can, and will do.” Peace can be defined on many levels, between individuals, ethnic groups, or states. Section 2.5 states that peace is existent, dichotomous, both internal and external, and active. Negative peace is only the absence of conflict, while positive peace involves the rebuilding of communities and institutions to maintain the peace. This understanding is important to keep in mind when reviewing the rest of this chapter.

Rummel, R. J. “Chapter 2: What is Peace?” Understanding Conflict and War: Vol. 5 The Just Peace. Web. October 2013. <http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/TJP.CHAP2.HTM>.

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