Global Justice Academy study shows Good Friday deal has enduring global peace legacy

Fresh analysis of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland has revealed its lasting impact on subsequent peace deals worldwide

Researchers at Edinburgh Law School and the Global Justice Academy have created the PA-X database, a Peace Agreement Access Tool, which reveals that the Good Friday Agreement has had a lasting effect on peace negotiations.

The latest study using PA-X has revealed that key elements of the settlement between Nationalists, Republicans and Unionists and the Irish and British governments – agreed in Belfast 20 years ago – have been instrumental in other peace negotiations. 

Researchers say the Good Friday principle that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ has become a common feature of many peace negotiations.

Such an approach has applied to negotiations about South Africa, Bosnia and Sudan and is now framing the UK’s relationship with the Brexit process.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh analysed 33 individual settlements reached between 1990 and 2015 as part of the Northern Ireland peace process.

They compared the texts with other peace agreements to examine the way that the Good Friday Agreement had influenced the texts.

Central principles highlighted by the researchers include ‘parity of esteem’ – a reference to the protection of human rights – which was first used in the Good Friday Agreement was later used in three agreements in the Philippines.

The research team found that referendums to decide whether the peace agreement will be implemented – similar to the Good Friday Agreement referendum in 1998 – have been used for 13 peace agreements since 1990.

Christine Bell, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Global Justice Academy, said:

“We were really surprised to see from our research the way that the Agreement had influenced other similar texts, and where the agreement had had unusual features. We often focus on how the Agreement played out in Northern Ireland, but in fact it has made an important contribution to the development of peace deals globally, which we can now use our data to trace over time.” 

The resource charting the influence of the Good Friday Agreement, produced by the Political Settlements Research Programme can be accessed at: https://nipeaceagreements.wordpress.com

 The PA-X, a Peace Agreement Access Tool, can be accessed at www.peaceagreements.org

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