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Human rights in territorial peace agreements

  • Nina Caspersen (a1)


Justice and peace are commonly seen as mutually reinforcing, and key international peacebuilding documents stress the importance of human rights. Is this apparent normative shift reflected in post-Cold War peace agreements? The existing literature is divided on this issue but has crucially treated both conflicts and peace agreements as aggregate categories. This article argues that the conflict type and the agreement's ‘core deal’ impact on the inclusion, or exclusion, of human rights provisions. Based on new coding of the 29 comprehensive agreements signed between 1990 and 2010, it compares agreements signed in territorial and non-territorial conflicts, and agreements with and without territorial autonomy. Qualitative Comparative Analysis is used to examine the different combinations of conditions that led to the inclusion of human rights. The analysis finds that agreements signed in territorial conflicts are significantly less likely to include effective human rights provisions, especially if the settlement includes territorial autonomy. Moreover, such provisions tend to be the result of high levels of international involvement, and the consequent lack of local commitment, or outright resistance, undermines their implementation. These findings point to important trade-offs between group rights and individual rights, and qualifies the notion of a liberal peace.


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1 United Nations, ‘The Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post Conflict Societies’, Report of the Secretary-General (New York, 2004).

2 Weiner, Myron, ‘The clash of norms: Dilemmas in refugee policies’, Journal of Refugee Studies, 11:4 (1998), p. 442.

3 Joshi, Madhav, Lee, Sung Yong, and Ginty, Roger Mac, ‘Just how liberal is the liberal peace?’, International Peacekeeping, 21:3 (2014), p. 367.

4 Bell, Christine, On the Law of Peace: Peace Agreements and the Lex Pacificatoria (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

5 Bell, Christine, Peace Agreements and Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 297.

7 See Selby, Jan, ‘The myth of liberal peace-building’, Conflict, Security and Development, 13:1 (2013); Zaum, Dominik, ‘Beyond the “liberal peace”’, Global Governance, 18 (2012); Sriram, Chandra L., Peace as Governance: Power-Sharing, Armed Groups and Contemporary Peace Negotiations (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

8 Joshi, Lee, and Mac Ginty, ‘Just how liberal is the liberal peace?’.

9 Ibid., pp. 376–7.

10 Wolff, Stefan, ‘Complex power-sharing and the centrality of territorial self-governance in contemporary conflict settlements’, Ethnopolitics, 8:1 (2009).

11 See, for example, Horowitz, Donald, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

12 Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, ‘Peace Accords Matrix’ (University of Notre Dame, 2019), available at: {} last accessed 24 January 2019.

13 Joshi, Lee, and Mac Ginty, ‘Just how liberal is the liberal peace?’.

14 See, for example, Licklider, Roy, ‘The consequences of negotiated settlements in civil wars, 1945–1993’, American Political Science Review, 89:3 (1995); Sambanis, Nicholas, ‘Do ethnic and nonethnic civil wars have the same causes?’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 45:3 (2001); Walter, Barbara F., ‘Explaining the intractability of territorial conflict’, International Studies Review, 5:4 (2003); Fearon, James D., ‘Why do some civil wars last so much longer than others?’, Journal of Peace Research, 41:3 (2004); Bercovitch, Jacob and Derouen, Karl, ‘Managing ethnic civil wars: Assessing the determinants of successful mediation’, Civil Wars, 7:1 (2005).

15 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 159.

16 See, for example, Heraclides, Alexis, ‘The ending of unending wars: Separatist wars’, Millenium, 26 (1997); Walter, ‘Explaining the intractability of territorial conflict’. Territorial conflicts are a subset of self-determination conflicts, which need not include a territorial demand but can be focused on, for example, linguistic rights. See Cunningham, Kathleen G., Inside the Politics of Self-determination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). My distinction between territorial and non-territorial conflicts is focused on the demands made, not whether or not the rebels actually control territory. Such territorial control is found in both types of conflict. See De la Calle, Luis and Sanchez-Cuenca, Iganacio, ‘Rebels without a territory: an analysis of nonterritorial conflicts in the worlds, 1970–1997’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 56:4 (2012).

17 Cunningham, David E., Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, Gonzalez, Belen, Vidovic, Dragana, and White, Peter B., ‘Words and deeds: From incompatibilities to outcomes in anti-government disputes’, Journal of Peace Research, 54:4 (2017).

18 See also Cunningham, Inside the Politics of Self-determination.

19 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 35.

20 Wolff, ‘Complex power-sharing’; Caspersen, Nina, Peace Agreements: Finding Solutions to Intra-State Conflicts (Cambridge: Polity, 2017).

21 Ghai, Yash, ‘Ethnicity and autonomy: a framework for analysis’, in Ghai, Yash (ed.), Autonomy and Ethnicity: Negotiating Competing Claims in Multi-Ethnic States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 8.

22 Lijphart, Arend, Democracy in Plural Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), p. 41.

23 Lapidoth, Ruth, Autonomy: Flexible Solutions to Ethnic Conflicts (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1997), pp. 174–5; Gurr, Ted R., Minorities at Risk (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1993), p. 292.

24 Ghai, ‘Ethnicity and autonomy’, pp. 8–9.

25 Ibid., p. 10.

26 See, for example, Wolff, ‘Complex power-sharing’, p. 28; Hartzell, Caroline A. and Hoddie, Matthew, Crafting Peace: Power-Sharing Institutions and the Negotiated Settlement of Civil Wars (Philadelphia: Penn State University Press, 2007), p. 34.

27 Caspersen, Peace Agreements.

28 Cunningham, Inside the Politics of Self-determination, p. 4.

29 See, for example, Roeder, Philip G., ‘Ethnofederalism and the mismanagement of conflicting nationalisms’, Regional and Federal Studies, 19:2 (2009), pp. 212–13.

30 Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, p. 619.

31 Jenne, Erin K., ‘The paradox of ethnic partition: Lessons from de facto partition in Bosnia and Kosovo’, Regional & Federal Studies, 19:2 (2009), p. 276.

32 The Bodo Accord (1993), Article 3(a).

33 Wolff, Stefan, ‘Managing ethno-national conflict: Towards an analytical framework’, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 49:2 (2011), p. 168.

34 Wolff, ‘Complex power-sharing’.

35 Caspersen, Peace Agreements. See also Walter, ‘Explaining the intractability of territorial conflict’.

36 ‘Lusaka Protocol’ (Lusaka, 1994), Annex 6, Sections II and III.

37 ‘General Peace Agreement for Mozambique’ (Rome, 1992), Protocol V.

38 See, for example, Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 240.

39 Sriram, Peace as Governance, p. 182.

40 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 240. See also Nick Grono, ‘The Role of the International Court in Peace Processes: Mutually Reinforcing or Mutually Exclusive?’, IPPR briefing paper (London, 2006).

41 Badran, Ramzi, ‘Intrastate peace agreements and the durability of peace’, Conflict Management and Peace Science, 31:2 (2014).

42 See, for example, Putnam, Tonya L., ‘Human rights and sustainable peace’, in Stedman, Stephen J., Rothchild, Donald S., and Cousens, Elizabeth M. (eds), Ending Civil Wars: The Implementation of Peace Agreements (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2002), p. 238.

43 Joshi, Lee, and Mac Ginty, ‘Just how liberal is the liberal peace?’, p. 365.

44 See, for example, Bell, Christine, Navigating Inclusion in Peace Settlements (London: The British Academy, 2017).

45 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 231.

46 Peace Accords Matrix (2019).

47 Joshi, Lee, and Mac Ginty, ‘Just how liberal is the liberal peace?’.

48 This criterion is also similar to what is referred to as ‘full’ and ‘comprehensive’ peace agreements in the UCDP Peace Agreement Dataset. See Högbladh, Stina, ‘Peace agreements 1975–2011: Updating the UCDP Peace Agreement dataset’, in Petterson, Therése and Themnér, Lotta (eds), States in Armed Conflict 2011 (Uppsala: Uppsala University, 2012).

49 This agreement is included by Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights as a ‘framework or substantive’ agreement.

50 Melander, Erik, Pettersson, Therése, and Themnér, Lotta, ‘Organized violence, 1989–2015’, Journal of Peace Research, 53:5 (2016).

51 Kalyvas, Stathis N., of, ‘The ontologypolitical violence”: Action and identity in civil wars’, Perspectives on Politics, 1:3 (2003), p. 475.

52 See, for example, Rolandsen, Oystein H., ‘A quick fix? A retrospective analysis of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement’, Review of African Political Economy, 130:38 (2011).

53 Weller, Marc and Wolff, Stefan (eds), Autonomy, Self-governance and Conflict Resolution (London: Routledge, 2005), p. 13.

54 See, for example, Lapidoth, Autonomy, pp. 174–5.

55 Weller and Wolff (eds), Autonomy, Self-governance and Conflict Resolution, p. 13.

56 Gurr, Minorities at Risk, p. 292.

57 ‘Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement’ (Arusha, 2000), Protocol II, Articles 2, 8, and 13.

58 ‘Basic Agreement’ (Erdut, 1995). The General Peace Agreement for Casamance includes no autonomy at all. ‘General Peace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Senegal and MFDC’ (Ziguinchor, 2004).

59 Wolff, Stefan, ‘The institutional structure of regional consociations in Brussels, Northern Ireland and South Tyrol’, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 10:3 (2004).

60 ‘Belfast Agreement’ (Belfast, 1998).

61 The central territorial element is instead the links between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as contained in Strand 2 of the Belfast Agreement.

62 McGarry, John and O'Leary, Brendan, ‘Consociational theory, Northern Ireland's conflict, and its agreement, Part 1: What consociationalists can learn from Northern Ireland’, Government and Opposition, 41:1 (2006), p. 47, fn. 16.

63 Selby, ‘The myth of liberal peace-building’, p. 74.

64 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 193.

66 ‘Basic Agreement’ (1995), Article 6.

67 The 1992 comprehensive agreement for El Salvador included the 1990 San Jose Agreement on human rights. ‘Chapultepec Peace Agreement’ (Mexico City, 1992). Similarly, in the case of Guatemala the agreement includes the 1994 ‘Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights’. ‘Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace’ (Guatemala City, 1996).

68 ‘Interim Constitution Accord’ (Cape Town, 1993), ch. 3.

69 ‘General Framework for Peace/Dayton Peace Agreement’ (Paris, 1995), Annex 6.

70 ‘Comprehensive Peace Agreement’ (Naivasha, 2005), ch. 2, Article 1.6.

71 ‘Final Peace Agreement’ (Manila, 1996), Article 152.

72 See, for example, ‘Declaration of Principles’ (Washington, DC, 1993), Annex II, Article 3.

73 ‘Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accords’ (Dhaka, 1997), Article C.3.

74 ‘Memorandum of Settlement/ Bodo Accord’ (Guwahati, 1993), Article 3.b.

75 Wolff, ‘Complex power-sharing’.

76 Barnes, Catherine and Abdullaev, Kamoludin, ‘Introduction: From war to politics’, in Barnes, Catherine and Abdulaev, Kamoludin (eds), Politics of Compromise: The Tajikistan Peace Process (London: Conciliation Resources, 2001), p. 10.

77 ‘Bougainville Peace Agreement’ (Arawa, 2001), Article 127.

78 ‘Comprehensive Peace Agreement’ (2005), ch. 2, Articles 2.11.3 and

79 ‘Belfast Agreement’ (1998), Strand 1, Safeguards, Article 5.

80 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, pp. 221, 227.

81 Ibid., p. 297.

82 See, for example, Caspersen, Nina, Contested Nationalism: Serb Elite Rivalry in Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s (Oxford: Berghahn, 2010).

83 Bell, Navigating Inclusion in Peace Settlements, p. 11.

84 See, for example, Mohsin, Amena, The Chittagong Hill Tracts Bangladesh: On the Difficult Road to Peace (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2003), p. 71; Mikkelsen, Cæcilie, The Indigenous World 2015 (Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2015), pp. 316–17; Amnesty International, ‘Bangladesh: Indigenous Peoples engulfed in Chittagong Hills Tract Land Conflict' (London, 2013), available at: {} last accessed 24 January 2019.

85 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 196.

86 Ibid., pp. 194–5.

87 Rihoux, Benoit and Ragin, Charles C., Configurational Comparative Methods (Los Angeles: Sage, 2009).

88 Csergo, Zsuzsa, Roseberry, Philippe, and Wolff, Stefan, ‘Institutional outcomes of territorial contestation: Lessons from post-communist Europe, 1989–2012’, Publius, 47:4 (2017), p. 508.

89 This variable is adapted from data in Caspersen, Peace Agreements, pp. 22, 193, which includes both territorial and non-territorial autonomy.

90 See, for example, Roeder, ‘Ethnofederalism and the mismanagement of conflicting nationalisms’.

91 See also Marc Weller, ‘Self-governance in interim settlements: the case of Sudan’, in Weller and Wolff (eds), Autonomy, Self-Governance and Conflict Resolution.

92 There was an international presence at the talks, but no mediation. Senegal had significantly reduced the earlier involvement of neighbouring Guinea Bissau and Gambia. Aïssatou Fall, Understanding the Casamance Conflict: A Background, KAIPTC Monograph No. 7 (Accra, 2010), p. 26.

93 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, pp. 159, 196.

94 David E. Cunningham, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, and Idean Salehyan, ‘Non-State Actor Data, Version 3.4’ (2013), available at: {}, last accessed 24 January 2019.

95 Caspersen, Contested Nationalism.

96 Fall, Understanding the Casamance Conflict.

97 Samrat, ‘Violence in Assam has deep roots’, The New York Times (26 July 2012).

98 Bell, Navigating Inclusion in Peace Settlements, p. 13.

99 This variable draws on data from Caspersen, Peace Agreements, pp. 163–6.

100 Data from ibid.

101 Szasz, Paul, ‘The protection of human rights through the Dayton/Paris peace agreement on Bosnia’, American Journal of International Law, 90:2 (1996).

102 Young, John, The Fate of Sudan: The Origins and Consequences of a Flawed Peace Process (London: Zed Books, 2013), pp. 108–09.

103 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 231.

104 Merikallio, Katri and Ruokanen, Tapani, The Mediator: A Biography of Martti Ahtisaari (London: Hurst, 2015), p. 302.

105 Hadi, Faisal, ‘Human rights and injustice in Aceh: the long and winding road’, in Aguswandi, and Large, Judith (eds), Reconfiguring Politics: The Indonesia-Aceh Peace Process (London: Conciliation Resources, 2008).

106 Freedom House, ‘Freedom in the World Data and Resources’ (2018).

107 Joshi, Lee, and Mac Ginty, ‘Just how liberal is the liberal peace?’, p. 377.

108 Peace Accords Matrix (2019).

109 Ibid.

110 Hadi, ‘Human rights and injustice in Aceh’.

111 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 227.

112 Peace Accords Matrix (2019).

113 Amnesty International, ‘Indonesia: Victims of the Aceh Conflict Still Waiting for Truth, Justice and Reparation’ (London, 2013), available at: {} last accessed 24 January 2019; Hadi, ‘Human rights and injustice in Aceh’.

114 General amnesty is included in 5/15 of the territorial agreements and in 5/14 of the non-territorial agreements. Retributive justice, for example, in the form of war crimes tribunal is very rarely included. In fact, it is explicitly included in only one territorial agreement and one non-territorial agreement, while a couple of agreements in each group mention the possibility of such a process.

115 Bell, Navigating Inclusion in Peace Settlements, p. 54.

116 See, for example, Hartzell, Caroline and Hoddie, Matthew, ‘Institutionalizing peace: Power sharing and post-civil war conflict management’, American Journal of Political Science, 47:2 (2003); Mattes, Michaela and Savun, Burcu, ‘Fostering peace after civil war: Commitment problems and agreement design’, International Studies Quarterly, 53:3 (2009).

117 Badran, ‘Intrastate peace agreements’, p. 204.

118 Barbara F. Walter, ‘Conflict Relapse and the Sustainability of Post-Conflict Peace’, Word Development Report (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2010).

119 Nilsson, Desirée, ‘Anchoring the peace: Civil society actors in peace accords and durable peace’, International Interactions, 38:2 (2012).

120 Mohsin, The Chittagong Hill Tracts Bangladesh, pp. 54–5.

121 Mikkelsen, The Indigenous World 2015, pp. 315–16; Mikkelsen, Cæcilie, The Indigenous World 2009 (Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2009), p. 380; Fortna, Virginia P., Does Peacekeeping Work? Shaping Belligerents Choices after Civil War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 134.

122 See, for example, Joshi, Lee, and Mac Ginty, ‘Just how liberal is the liberal peace?’; Selby, ‘The myth of liberal peace-building’.

123 Bell, On the Law of Peace.

124 See, for example, Wolff, ‘Managing ethno-national conflict’.

125 Cooper, Neil, Turner, Mandy, and Pugh, Michael, ‘The end of history and the last liberal peacebuilder: a reply to Roland Paris’, Review of International Studies, 37:4 (2011), pp. 1997–8.



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