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The chapter examines the afterlife of peace agreements aimed at ending civil wars in the post-Cold War era. Assessing the ‘success’ or otherwise of these agreements is not possible without an appreciation of the context – historical, political, cultural and normative – within which they have been negotiated, concluded and implemented. While context is thus all-important, the history and fate of peace accords have also been shaped by the content of individual agreements, as well as by the manner of their implementation. The record shows that poorly designed and inadequately supported peace agreements can entrench pre-war patterns of conflict, exacerbate intra-elite competition, and accentuate socio-economic and political grievances within war-torn societies. By contrast, agreements that are properly designed, adequately resourced, and underpinned by constructive political support from parties, regional actors and international sponsors, can strengthen the political forces and dynamics favouring long-term stability and societal transformation towards self-sustaining peace. Peace agreements after civil wars are often best approached as living documents whose flexible and politically informed interpretation can help parties and mediators chart political avenues out of protracted violence.
In this chapter, I present an introduction to modern human rights treaty law discussing the increased creation and commitment to treaties over time. I introduce the four types of commitment focused on in this book – signature, ratification, accession, and succession. I introduce the argument of examining each commitment type separately from ratification and argue that with each commitment type comes unique circumstances and contexts that prove important in understanding how the commitment type can influence changes in human rights behavior. I graphically depict the different commitment types to demonstrate that the majority of treaty commitment does not, in fact come from ratification, despite the focus of scholars, policy makers, and activists on ratification.
The term conflict management stands for a wide array of activities undertaken to prevent violent conflicts, to manage and end them once broken out, as well as to build peace and to avoid a recurrence of violence. Such activities include mediation between warring factions, military and civilian peacekeeping operations to oversee truces or peace agreements, peace enforcement, and post-conflict reconstruction, which comprises initiatives for state-building and socio-economic development amongst others. This chapter scrutinizes these activities and identifies factors that lead to peace. It concentrates on mediation and power-sharing as means to make peace, on military and civilian operations of international organizations as means to keep peace, as well as on the accommodation of spoilers, the design of peace operations, and transitional justice as means to build peace.
The operation of military courts is clearly allowed for and, in some cases, mandated by international humanitarian law (IHL). Nevertheless, the use of military courts has been one of the most controversial and hotly debated areas of human rights. Despite the ostensibly exclusive military domain, many human rights bodies have registered significant scepticism towards this type of justice. Consequently, they have sought actively to regulate this ‘IHL space’ with scant attention to the requirements of IHL itself. The article examines comments, case law, draft rules and other measures taken by two human rights frameworks: the United Nations Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and People's Rights. It will analyse how, since 2000, these bodies have approached the issue of IHL when assessing the legitimacy and operation of military courts. For instance, do they consider IHL as a source of law guiding their efforts and rely on IHL instruments? How do they resolve conflicts between IHL and international human rights law? Additionally, the article will consider the validity, legality and effectiveness of these efforts. It concludes that, in reviewing military courts, there exists significant neglect of IHL in human rights frameworks. Through overlooking IHL or relegating it to a sub-specialty of international human rights law, these bodies not only ignore applicable law, they deprive themselves of the wealth of expertise found in commentary, debate, jurisprudence and practice in the IHL sphere. Instead, integrating IHL analysis and theory and affording it its appropriate respect within relevant human rights discussions will allow for greater legal and policy coherence, and human rights bodies will be better placed to fulfil their mandates.
International treaties are the primary means for codifying global human rights standards. However, nation-states are able to make their own choices in how to legally commit to human rights treaties. A state commits to a treaty through four commitment acts: signature, ratification, accession, and succession. These acts signify diverging legal paths with distinct contexts and mechanisms for rights change reflecting legalization, negotiation, sovereignty, and domestic constraints. How a state moves through these actions determines how, when, and to what extent it will comply with the human rights treaties it commits to. Using legal, archival, and quantitative analysis this important book shows that disentangling legal paths to commitment reveals distinct and significant compliance outcomes. Legal context matters for human rights and has important implications for the conceptualization of treaty commitment, the consideration of non-binding commitment, and an optimistic outlook for the impact of human rights treaties.
There has been widespread support for the idea that the so-called international community has a remedial moral responsibility to protect vulnerable populations from mass atrocities when their own governments fail to do so. But, where exactly is this responsibility located? In other words, which body or bodies can be expected to discharge a duty to safeguard those who lack the protection of – or, indeed, come under threat from – their own government? The question becomes particularly pressing when the United Nations is unwilling or unable to act and there is no one state to fill the breach.
In this chapter, I examine ‘coalitions of the willing’ as one (likely provocative) answer to this question, and explore how the informal nature of such associations should inform the judgements of moral responsibility that we make in relation to them. Perhaps most controversially, I propose that, under certain circumstances, states and other institutional agents have a duty to contribute to forming such an ad hoc association, and then to participate in a collective endeavour – and that these circumstances may include cases of military intervention in response to mass atrocity without UN Security Council authorisation.
One type of change that has lurked at the edges of scholarly discussions of international politics—often assumed, invoked, and alluded to, but rarely interrogated—is learning. Learning entails a very particular type of change. It is deliberate, internal, transformative, and peaceful (in the sense of being uncoerced). In this contribution to the roundtable “International Institutions and Peaceful Change,” I ask whether intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) can learn in a way that is comparable to the paradigmatic learning of individual human beings. In addressing this question, I take three steps. First, I explore references to corporate entities “learning” within the discipline of international relations (IR) and ask whether what is being proposed is, in fact, genuine learning by the organizations themselves. Second, I attempt to construct a robust account of institutional learning that departs from these conceptions and acknowledges instead the self-reflection and structural transformation that I argue learning at the corporate level requires. Third, for the purpose of illustration, I turn briefly to the UN following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the slaughter of more than eight thousand men and boys outside Srebrenica in 1995 to identify examples of each stage of institutional learning. Finally, I offer three provisional claims about my proposed conception of institutional learning that warrant attention in future work. Namely, I suggest that institutional learning: (1) cannot be equated with moral progress; (2) is possible despite formal organizations being incapable of emotional responses such as shame or regret; and, perhaps most controversially, (3) can occur at the level of the IGO without prior or parallel learning taking place at the level of the state or individual human actor.
The complex issues of the twenty-first century cannot be addressed by disparate actors in the global arena. This has become even more apparent in 2020, as we celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the UN and have witnessed the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has put the UN system to the test, demonstrating weaknesses in regard to peace and security, sustainable socioeconomic development, and human rights, the three core mission areas of the organization. The underlying tensions between the ideals of liberalism associated with the UN's human rights and socioeconomic-development agendas and the institution of sovereignty, under nationalist strongman leaders throughout the world, stood in the way of an effective response. This is especially true as powerful states are able to thwart collective action in favor of their own perceived national interests. While the UN and its affiliated agencies, such as the World Health Organization, are still able to foster cooperation, their success is limited by the organization's inability to establish some form of authority and command.
Numerous empirical studies have examined the role of third-party peacekeeping in reducing violence around the world. Their results reveal an extraordinary relationship between peacekeepers and peace, notwithstanding a number of well-known problems. This review article has three goals. The first is to summarize the results of past empirical research to move the debate beyond the question of whether peacekeeping works to the more pressing questions of how, when and why it works. The second is to reveal the limitations of the current quantitative research in order to identify areas in which scholars can make big, new contributions to the field. The final goal is to propose a new research agenda that is heavily evaluative – one that informs policy makers about the specific practices, mission compositions, and mandates that work, and identifies the local, regional, and international conditions that amplify or diminish peacekeeping's effectiveness. This type of research could help reduce the costs of peacekeeping operations, eliminate some of the negative consequences of interventions and save even more lives.
The rule of law is indispensable for sustained peace, good governance, and economic growth, especially in countries recovering from civil war. Yet for all its importance, the rule of law has received surprisingly little attention from political scientists and international relations scholars. This book proposes a new theory to explain how international organizations can restore the rule of law in the world’s weakest and most war-torn states, focusing in particular on the crucial but underappreciated role of the UN. The book tests the theory by combining analysis of original, highly disaggregated survey data from Liberia with cross-country analyses spanning all post-conflict countries in Africa since 1989. The book combines these quantitative results with qualitative insights gleaned from hundreds of interviews with UN officials, local leaders, citizens, and government and civil society representatives in Liberia and beyond. The book shows that UN intervention can have a deeper, more lasting, and more positive effect on the rule of law than the prevailing pessimism would lead us to believe.
Liberia is both a hard and a crucial case for testing the effects of UN intervention on the rule of law after civil war. This chapter presents a mixed methods research design for evaluating the UN Mission in Liberia's (UNMIL) impact on Liberia both quantitatively and qualitatively. Drawing on original qualitative interviews and extensive quantitative survey data collected over fifteen months of fieldwork in the country, the chapter complements and extends previous assessments of UNMIL's role in Liberia by providing rich, highly granular data on exposure to UNMIL at both the individual and community levels over multiple years and in multiple Liberian counties. By combining surveys with in-depth interviews, the analytical approach described in this chapter substantiates and contextualizes quantitative findings with qualitative insights gleaned from Liberian citizens, local leaders, and government officials, as well as from UNMIL personnel.
Can UN intervention help create the necessary conditions for the rule of law at the local level in countries recovering from civil war? This chapter answers this question through a quantitative and qualitative case study of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The case study combines an original three-wave panel survey with in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted with dozens of UN personnel, citizens, local leaders, government officials, and civil society representatives in Liberia. The survey spans a period of four years, covers a wide range of topics, and captures the views of over 10,000 rural Liberians across three waves of data collection. The richness of this data helps isolate the causal impact of UNMIL's activities. The chapter demonstrates that UNMIL increased citizens' willingness to rely on the Liberian police and courts to resolve the most serious incidents of crime and violence, while reducing their use of illegal mechanisms of dispute resolution -- especially trial by ordeal. These effects persist even for at least two years, even in communities that report no further exposure to UNMIL personnel.
As UN missions have grown in scope and complexity, restoring the rule of law has become increasingly central to their mandates and exit strategies, which hinge on the transfer of legal and political power to legitimate, effective security and justice institutions. UN missions now regularly assume responsibility for drafting laws and lobbying for their passage; revising constitutions; training judges, prosecutors, and police officers; building courthouses, police stations, and prisons; monitoring extrajudicial punishments, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detentions, and other abuses; assisting with criminal investigations and prosecutions; improving coordination both between and among state and non-state authorities; and more generally elevating the role of the state as a purveyor of security and justice. All of these activities are designed in part to foster the rule of law. This chapter traces how the rule of law became so central to UN mandates around the world, providing empirical examples along the way to illuminate the UN's approach to rule-of-law reform in practice.
Can the international community help establish the rule of law in countries recovering from civil war? If so, how? This chapter develops a theory to explain how third parties like the UN can help rehabilitate state security and justice sector institutions at the national level, while simultaneously legitimizing those institutions in the eyes of citizens at the local level. The chapter provides illustrations of the theory at work, gleaned from the secondary literature and primary accounts of the successes and shortcomings of UN missions around the world. The UN is especially adept at combining carrots and sticks to encourage compliance with new rule of law standards, even in countries where the rule of law has never existed before. The theory stands in stark contrast to the overly pessimistic accounts that tend to dominate scholarly and policy debate.
The UN is intimately involved in efforts to restore the rule of law in countries recovering from civil war. Have these efforts succeeded? This chapter provides a systematic, cross-national quantitative test of the relationship between UN missions and the rule of law across all post-conflict countries in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The chapter draws on original datasets gleaned from sources that have never been used for purposes of research. The chapter demonstrates a strong positive correlation between UN presence and the rule of law in the one- to three-year period after a peace agreement has been signed. The relationship is stronger for the UN's civilian personnel than for troops and military observers, and is stronger when the UN engages host government officials in the process of reform, rather than bypassing them entirely.
Rule-of-law trajectories diverge widely in countries recovering from civil war. Intervention by the UN and other international intermediaries can help explain this variation both across countries and over time. This concluding chapter summarizes the theory and evidence presented over the course of the book, considers the generalizability of the argument to other settings and other types of international intervention, and generates practical recommendations for UN missions in the field. UN missions should invest more heavily in their civilian components, especially as the scope of their mandates continues to expand; should be proactive in their efforts to legitimize state institutions in the eyes of civilians; and should be aware of the impact that even apparently routine actions can have not just on citizens' support for the mission, but also on their receptiveness to renewed state rule.
Nathan A. Kurz charts the fraught relationship between Jewish internationalism and international rights protection in the second half of the twentieth century. For nearly a century, Jewish lawyers and advocacy groups in Western Europe and the United States had pioneered forms of international rights protection, tying the defense of Jews to norms and rules that aspired to curb the worst behavior of rapacious nation-states. In the wake of the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel, however, Jewish activists discovered they could no longer promote the same norms, laws and innovations without fear they could soon apply to the Jewish state. Using previously unexamined sources, Nathan Kurz examines the transformation of Jewish internationalism from an effort to constrain the power of nation-states to one focused on cementing Israel's legitimacy and its status as a haven for refugees from across the Jewish diaspora.
Beyond rehabilitating state institutions at the national level, UN missions also attempt to legitimize the role those institutions will ultimately play as purveyors of security and justice in the eyes of citizens at the local level. How successful is the UN's approach to restoring relations between citizens and weak and war-torn states? This chapter begins to answer this question through an in-depth, mixed methods case study of Liberia. The chapter traces the trajectory of the rule of law in Liberia from the country's founding to the present, focusing in particular on the ongoing contest between the police and courts on the one hand and chiefs, elders, and other local leaders on the other. This contest continued to evolve during fourteen years of civil war, which culminated in the deployment of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in 2003. UNMIL faced daunting challenges to the rule of law at the start of its mandate, and adopted a variety of strategies to overcome them. The chapter draws on a combination of secondary sources and original primary interviews conducted with dozens of Liberian citizens and local leaders, as well as with government and UN personnel.
The rule of law is indispensable for sustained peace, good governance, and economic growth, especially in countries recovering from civil war. Yet despite its importance, we know surprisingly little about how to restore the rule of law in the wake of conflict. In this book, Robert A. Blair proposes a new theory to explain how the international community can help establish the rule of law in the world's weakest and most war-torn states, focusing on the crucial but often underappreciated role of the United Nations. Blair tests the theory by drawing on original household surveys in Liberia, highly disaggregated data on UN personnel and activities across Africa, and hundreds of interviews with UN officials, local leaders, citizens, and government and civil society representatives. The book demonstrates that UN intervention can have a deeper, more lasting, and more positive effect on the rule of law than skeptics typically believe.