What should international law make of peace agreements? In the Nineteenth Century, when treaties regularly ended inter-state armed conflicts (IACs), the answer was easy. Peace agreements were binding treaties whose terms could be freely dictated by the winning side. Peace agreements also signaled that a series of rules specific to wartime were no longer operable. Contemporary peace agreements share neither of these characteristics. This is because they largely end non-international armed conflicts (NIACs). Agreements between governments and rebels do not meet the definition of a binding treaty. And IAC agreements’ signaling function has long passed into obsolescence. How then, if at all, do new NIAC peace agreements engage with international law?
This article argues that international law has become critical to their genesis in two respects. First, the agreements parallel international law’s concern with governance issues by restructuring domestic institutions. Their governance focus is the logical consequence of international law’s refusal to “resolve” NIACs through large-scale and violent changes to national borders or demographic profiles. Former combatants must live with each other and NIAC agreements seek to structure their peaceful co-existence.
Second, all stages of NIAC agreements have become heavily multilateralized. International actors wield incentives and sanctions from the onset of conflict through the agreements’ implementation. In so doing, they radically expand the factors militating toward a peace settlement. These added factors, especially those providing a “credible commitment” of enforcing the agreement, reconfigure the parties’ incentives as to whether or not a negotiated end to conflict will serve their interests.
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Fox: Old and New Peace Agreements
Gregory H. Fox (Wayne State Univ. - Law) has posted Old and New Peace Agreements (Seton Hall Law Review, forthcoming). Here's the abstract: