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What Is Peace?

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Author: George Lopez
Presentation 13

What is Peace in a world of terror?

Linking Violence/Peace & Terror

Just above 85% of all ‘global’ terrorism from the US Dept of State data bank occurs in situations of protracted internal war – the implication….you end the conflict and bring peace, you end the terror (except for ‘spoilers’: “factions or leaders who oppose the peace agreement and use violence to undermine it”; states who support such leaders/factions - Stedman 2001) 

The other 12-15% is from the ‘new terror,’ which is reinforced by communal dislocations and lack of effective systems of inclusion in the political and economic orders of existing states.


So the challenges are:

  • To get the 12-15% of the ‘new terror’ isolated and dealt with, without pushing the societies hosting them into all out civil war;
  • To find ways to prevent spoilers from winning (i.e. from derailing the return to peaceful politics - connecting intelligence and police/military strategies to deal with);
  • To do this all with methods applied from the outside that don’t intensify and worsen the situation inside.
      Temnesoni: “War on Terrorism: a Global Civil War?”
      Stedman: Implementing Peace Agreements
      Zahar: Reframing the Spoiler Debate (summary only)

What is peace in a world of terror?

Some of it no different than the puzzle of peace in past historical phases in the global order. Except where it is different:

  • Peace – for many – is security. (in this case – western security) - free from arbitrary attack & able to live without such violence
  • Peace involves dispute resolution before or during violence (but this implies negotiable issues)
  • If peace involves justice, or conditions that lead to justice - this IS more difficult in our era. Why? - Do you have to overlook the crimes to negotiate a peace?


Two differences:


  • a luxury (a reward after the world has reached security and peace) ….or at least as a desired end-state of affairs in a world that already might be unrealistic because it appears violence free or something else
  • part of the diminish strategy …which ironically sees the bottom of the counter-terror policy triangle as far away and/or attainable only after defeat and deny have occurred.


Peace as security…

(better not be just for Western states)
 PEACE is:

  • still the role and rule of law.
  • a set of institutions and processes that ensure that grievances can be heard and dealt with satisfactorily.
  • is the result of mechanisms with decreasing reliance on militarism for achieving security - law as a persuasive mechanism for mediating conflicting interests.


And peace is relative to the threats to peace (or violence) that exist:

  • Peace before violence is different than peace during violence, or peace after the end of violence.
  • Peace for non-governmental groups is always different – and more dissident – than for nations. NGOs are more wiling to sit at a table with ‘scoundrel’ - because they understand that everybody that can disturb the peace should be at the table (spoilers). Here we must acknowledge the role of think-tanks, scholars, journalists, peace negotiators, NGOs that can build a peace agenda that politicians can fructify without being responsible for generating the idea. The “rewards” for peace are more difficult to come by.
  • Peace during terror violence often isolates the terrorist from the start…and through the rest of the violence has no place for terror. BUT you must distinguish between terror as technique vs. terror as a way of life


Peace as Role of and Rule of Law

  • There is behavioral law and normative law (originates in culture) – both are needed
  • Law implies accountability and rejection of violence, crime, and cheating
  • Law demands that various institutions exist and are effective in the society
  • Law is often a good conflict resolution mechanism


Institutions: key to the development of an effective civil society

  • what institutions ‘work’ and why?
  • which ones have key processes tied to them that can be mobilized?
  • what institutions operate to condemn terror violence and uphold justice and peace?
  • how to ensure the permanence of these as mechanisms for conflict resolution, grievance articulation, restorative justice, or the development of new [such?] mechanisms


Locating the challenge:

  • Special emphasis on post-conflict peace-building. 
  • The ideas of Ekaterina Stepanova are helpful here (see later slide)
  • And we need to understand how the end relates back to the beginning …..Collier’s ‘conflict trap’ cycle

Life Cycle of a Conflict


E. Stepanova’s SIPRI booklet:

  • Good distinction between “terrorism of conflicts” or “conflict-generated” & super-terrorism
  • Within each we now see the cross-cutting reality of what happens at the end of the curve:
    • International peace-building in failed or weak states
    • National stabilization programs


Key areas:

  • She discusses the challenge of super-terrorism to our traditional notions of state-building, good governance and rule of law:
  • In the “old days” the choices were:
    • Import a governance model…it generated some hate and some benefited from it;
    • Fix part of the dysfunctional old state…it is likely to still be dysfunctional;

Main points SIPRI book (contd.)

  • Because new terror groups don’t need or want a state, some of this, and the level of attack on the state becomes very complicated. 
  • The greatest “threat’ posed by these groups when they are not violent is that they are outside of, or an alternative, to the state.


Yes, rule of law is good but….

  • In post-conflict situations enforcement may translate into collective punishment for these groups, which reduces the government’s legitimacy and the rule of law
  • In general, in guerilla war, even with terror tactics, you can often have a phase where you integrate the ‘bad guys’ into the new government/laws/institutions for the future of the nation. But not in the ‘new terror’ situation.
  • UGH!!!  Those spoilers…..


The rule of law - A real, but tough goal…..

  • Can you return to a state of “ordinary, decent crime”?
  • Can you stop the cycle of violence?
  • Can you achieve rehabilitation, restore and recreate civil society and non-violent political space?


  • Our ability to get to peace in any given phase depends on
    • the strength of the rule of law,
    • the institutions, and
    • the uniqueness of this terror situation.
  • Often – on the way to creating peace – we aim for (or settle indefinitely on) security.  Thus we destroy, deny, and diminish support for terrorists, but in truth our premium is on destroy.
  • We forget that there always is some type of real negotiation with terrorists (however indirect or denied!).
  • Spoilers come in different sizes and shapes.


Key for the Bush Administration’s view & those who want real peace – a convergence?

Where does a lot of terror unfold??

  • In unstable/rogue states… probably within states; we deal with terror as part of politics or crime.
  • In places coming out of war/violence?
  • In – or aided by – despotic (terror) regimes
  • In places in a war stalemate.


SO, we need to work on….

  • Adapt to the threat to peace situation we find
  • Build what sustains the rule of law
  • Create new institutions to address grievances, allow conflict resolution, justice provision, security
  • Take special care in post-conflict peace-building to aim for justice which diminishes terror’s underlying causes as the goal (remember the counter-terror policy triangle)
  • Having an informed ‘global’ view so as to know where and when to balance
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