Professor of Constitutional Law

BA (Law) Cantab; LLM (Harvard)
View my full research profile


Christine Bell is Professor of Constitutional Law and Assistant Principal (Global Justice).  She is a co-director of the Global Justice Academy and a member of the British Academy.  She read law at Selwyn College, Cambridge, (1988) and gained an LL.M in Law from Harvard Law School (1990), supported by a Harkness Fellowship. In 1990 she qualified as a Barrister at law. She subsequently qualified as an Attorney-at-law in New York, practicing for a period at Debevoise & Plimpton, NY. From 1997-9 she was Director of the Centre for International and Comparative Human Rights Law, Queen's University of Belfast, and from 2000-2011, she was Professor of Public International Law, and a founder and Director of the Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster.

She has been active in non-governmental organizations, and was chairperson of Belfast-based Human Rights organization, the Committee on the Administration of Justice from 1995-7, and a founder member of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission established under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. In 1999 she was a member of the European Commission’s Committee of Experts on Fundamental Rights. 

Her research interests lie in the interface between constitutional and international law, gender and conflict, and legal theory, with a particular interest in peace processes and their agreements. In 2007 Christine won the American Society of International Law's Francis Deake Prize for her article on 'Peace Agreements: Their Nature and Legal Status' 100(2) American Journal of International Law. The prize is awarded annually for the leading article by a younger author in the AJIL. She has authored two books: On the Law of Peace: Peace Agreements and the Lex Pacificatoria (Oxford University Press, 2008) which won the Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize, awarded by the Socio-legal Studies Association UK, and Peace Agreements and Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2000). She has also authored the a report published by the International Council on Human Rights Policy entitled 'Negotiating Justice? Human Rights and Peace Agreements' (2006). 

Christine was awarded the Fernand Braudel Senior Fellowship for 'established academics with an international reputation' at the European University Institute Law department, Florence, Italy, from January to June 2007. She has also taken part in various peace negotiations discussions, giving constitutional law and human rights law advice, and also in training for diplomats, mediators and lawyers and acted as an expert in transitional justice for the UN Secretary-General, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and UNIFEM.

Ph.D. supervision interests
Peace processes and international law Peace processes and constitutional law Transitional Justice


Professor Christine Bell's Homepage at Edinburgh Law School

Courses Taught

Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (LLM) (Course Organiser)

International Human Rights Law (LLM) (Course Organiser)

PhD Supervisees

Megan Bastick  'Military responses to sexual violence in conflict'

Sean Molloy  'The Business of Peace: Exploring the relationship between business, socioeconomic rights, and Transitional Justice?'

Books and Reports

Laura Wise, Christine Bell, Gaining Ground: Women and Territorial Power-Sharing in Peace Processes, (UN Women, 2018)
Abstract: This Brief presents the different forms of territorial power-sharing that arise in peace agreements, and the potential opportunities and risks for women’s inclusion that these can entail. It proposes critical questions that women could ask of peace processes if territorial power-sharing is likely to be negotiated, and highlights strategies and tactics that women and allies have used in conflict-affected contexts to navigate inclusion issues.

Christine Bell, Kimana Zulueta-Fuelscher, Sequencing Peace Agreements and Constitutions in the Political Settlement Process, (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2016)
Abstract: This paper focuses on sequencing peace agreements and constitutional arrangements within the broader political settlement processes in fragile and conflict affected settings. Political settlements comprise the underlying agreed understandings about how power is to be held and exercised. It is often assumed that there is a specific sequence to reach a political settlement: typically, a ceasefire or peace agreement that includes (or is followed by) transitional political arrangements or an interim constitution that culminates in some form of long-term constitutional arrangement. According to this assumption, the political settlement is understood to develop as part of the peace and constitution-building process. In practice, matters are likely to be much more complicated. Peace agreements and constitutional arrangements often fail to reflect a broadly shared political settlement, and require further negotiations to resolve conflict and start building sustainable peace. The paper includes eight key recommendations.

Christine Bell, Transitional Justice, (Routledge, 2016)
Abstract: This collection on transitional justice sits as part of a library of essays on different concepts of ’justice’. Yet transitional justice appears quite different from other types of justice and fundamental ambiguities characterise the term that raise questions as to how it should sit alongside other concepts of justice. This collection attempts to capture and portray three different dimensions of the transitional justice field. Part I addresses the origins of the field which continue to bedevil it. Indeed the origins themselves are increasingly debated in what is an emergent contested historiography of the field that assists in understanding its contemporary quirks and concerns. Part II addresses and sets out parts of the ’tool-kit’ of transitional justice, which could be understood as the canonical research agenda of the field. Part III tries to convey a sense of the way in which the field is un-folding and extending to new transitions, tools, theories of justice, and self-critique.

Jenna Sapiano, Christine Bell, Kimana Zulueta-Fülscher, Sumit Bisarya, Asanga Welikala, Constitution-Building in Political Settlement Processes: The Quest for Inclusion, (International Idea, 2016)
Abstract: In practice, peace agreements and constitutions are connected, although not in a linear or symmetrical way. Often the purpose of a peace agreement and/or (new) constitutional arrangement is to reach a new political settlement and document the commitments to it. Peace agreements often come before constitutions in the overall political settlement process, and sometimes constrain or determine the options for constitutional design; the constitution then becomes an additional instrument that enables sustainable peace. Given the link between these two documents, they often merge in the broader political settlement process into ‘constitutional peace agreements’ or ‘peace agreement constitutions’. Yet the commitment to a revised political settlement may be very thin or non-existent, in which case both the peace agreement and any 7 follow-up constitutional framework bear the heavy burden of trying to forge a new settlement capable of delivering peace. However, the academic and policy literatures on conflict resolution and constitution-building often address peace agreements and constitution-building as separate issues and processes.

Christine Bell, Text and Context: Evaluating Peace Agreements for their "Gender Perspective", (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2015)

Christine Bell, Governance and Law: The Distinctive Context of Transitions from Conflict and its Consequences for Development Interventions, (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2015)

Christine Bell, Unsettling Bargains?: Power-sharing and the Inclusion of Women in Peace Negotiations, (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2015)

Celia Davies, Kimana Zulueta-Fuelscher, Asanga Welikala, Sumit Bisarya, Christine Bell, Interim Constitutions in Post-Conflict Settings, (International Idea, 2015)
Abstract: This report is the outcome of an inaugural event in a series of annual workshops to be known as the Post-Conflict Constitution Building Dialogues which are closely connected to the Political Settlement Research Programme.This workshop held before the Programme’s commencement, in anticipation of its themes, was organized to explore theopportunities, challenges and experiences of ‘Interim Constitutions in Post-Conflict Settings’. The series is designed to draw out the benefits of informed constitutional comparison and an interdisciplinary approach to constitutional substance and processes.This newly launched series of workshops is jointly hosted by the Constitution Building Processes programme of International IDEA and the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law (ECCL) at Edinburgh Law School. The Global Justice Academy (GJA) of the University of Edinburgh and its Political Settlement Research Programme will also be associated with the partnership.

Christine Bell, Helia Farahnoosh, Chronology of the Peace Process and Peace Agreements between the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2015)

Christine Bell, Vanessa Utley, Chronology of Mindanao Peace Agreements, (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2015)

Christine Bell, Catherine O'Rourke, Sissela Matzner, A Chronology of Colombian Peace Processes and Peace Agreements, (Political Settlements Research Programme, 2015)

Christine Bell, On the Law of Peace: Peace Agreements and the Lex Pacificatoria, (Oxford University Press, 2008)
Abstract: This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the use of peace agreements from a legal perspective. It describes and evaluates the development of contemporary peace processes and the peace agreements that emerge. The book sets out what is in essence an anatomy of peace agreement practice and interrogates its relationship to law. At its heart the book grapples with the role of law in ending violent conflict and the broader questions this raises for the relationship of law to social change. Law potentially plays two key roles with respect to peace agreements: first, to the extent that peace agreements themselves form legal documents, law plays a role in the 'enforcement' or implementation of the peace agreement; second, international law has a relationship to peace agreement negotiation and content, in its regulatory guise. International Law regulates self-determination, transitional justice, and the role of third parties. The book documents and analyses these two roles of law.</p><p>In doing so, the book reveals a complex dynamic relationship between the peace agreement as a legal document and the role of international law in which international law and concepts of domestic constitutionalism are being re-shaped. The practice of negotiating peace agreements is argued to be producing a new law of the peacemaker-or <em>lex pacificatoria</em> that connects developments in international law with new forms of domestic constitutional law in a set of hybrid relationships. This law of the peacemaker potentially forms part of a broader 'law of peace' that moves beyond the traditional concept of law of peace as merely 'the rest of international law' once the laws of war are subtracted.The new lex pacificatoria stands as an account of the way in which international law shapes and is shaped by peace agreements. The book proposes an ambivalent response to 'this new law' which connects to contemporary debates about the force of international law and its appropriate relationship with domestic constitutionalism.

Christine Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, (Oxford University Press, 2000)
Abstract: Peace Agreements and Human Rights examines the place of human rights in peace agreements against the backdrop of international legal provision. The introductory analysis draws on a review of many peace agreements, while the body of the book focuses, in particular, on the peace agreements in four peace processes: South Africa, Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, and Bosnia. It addresses the phenomenon of the post-Cold War peace process, the types of agreement that are typically produced, and the typical role of human rights in those agreements. This includes discussion of the legal status of peace agreements, and their relationships to international law.

Christine Bell, Marie Fox, Learning Legal Skills, (Blackstone Press, 1999)
Abstract: Legal skills are certain to play an essential role in the future of legal education at both the academic and professional stages. Advocacy, negotiation and fact-finding will be studied alongside the more traditional topics of statutory interpretation and precedent. Once acquired, these skills will become fundamental to future studies and legal practice.This is an introduction to the acquisition of critical legal skills, exploring how problems can be analyzed and how concepts like justice or efficiency may be used to argue for reform. The materials can be used as the basis of a first year course or an intensive introductory course in the first few weeks, or to develop skills throughout a three or four year course.

Christine Bell, John Morison, Tall Stories?: Reading Law and Literature, (Dartmouth Publishing, 1996)
Abstract: These essays bring together a variety of perspectives on law and literature in order to demonstrate the value of looking at literary material outside the law library. Methods of obtaining/deploying the insights that literature many bring to the understanding of law are covered.


Christine Bell, Kevin Mcnicholl, 'Principled pragmatism and the ‘Inclusion Project’: Implementing a gender perspective in peace agreements', (2018), feminists@law
Abstract: UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of 2000 provided that peace agreements should adopt a ‘gender perspective’. This commitment has been reiterated in women, peace and security resolutions since that time. This article uses a mixed qualitative and quantitative analysis to consider when and how peace agreements have adopted a gender perspective, using a new PA-X peace agreement database to analyse over 1500 peace and transition agreements from between 1990 and 2016. It goes further to consider how inclusion of women is related to the other forms of political and group inclusion contemplated to form part of the new political settlement. The article begins by examining what might be meant by a ‘gender perspective in peace agreements’. It maps out when and how peace agreements provide for women, girls and gender, but also for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans communities, and for ‘men and boys’ and ‘family’ at different stages of a peace process. The article provides new data on the implementation of agreement commitments and specifically those issues singled out for attention by UNSC 1325. Finally, we consider the inclusion project on offer to women and its relationship to the conceptualisation of the conflict and its solution, by considering the relationship between gender, power-sharing and transitional justice. In summary, analysis of the dataset provides three main findings. First provision for women is still largely limited to once-off provisions, or issues relating to the victimhood of women, with holistic attempts to adopt a ‘gender perspective’ relatively rare. Second, the inclusion of women in peace agreement texts tends to be located in the more comprehensive stages of the agreement, with little consideration given to women and gender at either pre-negotiation stages of a peace process, or implementation stages. Third, surprisingly perhaps, political power-sharing is shown to be strongly correlated with several measures of gender inclusion rather than marking an exclusive focus on the inclusion of the groups at the heart of the conflict. In conclusion we argue that peace agreements indicate the presence of ‘principled pragmatism’ whereby elite commitments to political equality are used by a range of groups to push for a more pluralist conception of the peace settlement as also concerned with the political equality of groups beyond the conflict actors.

Christine Bell, Sanja Badanjak, 'Introducing PA-X – A new Peace Agreement database and dataset ', (2018), Journal of Peace Research
Abstract: This article introduces PA-X a peace agreement database designed to improve understanding of negotiated pathways out of conflict (available at,. PA-X enables scholars, mediators, conflict parties, and civil society actors to systematically compare how peace and transition processes formalise negotiated commitments in an attempt to move towards peace. PA-X provides an archive and comprehensive census of peace agreements using a broad definition to capture agreements at all phases of peace processes in both intrastate and interstate conflict, from 1990 to 2016. These comprise ceasefire, pre-negotiation, substantive partial and comprehensive, and implementation agreements, disaggregated by country/entity, region, conflict type, agreement type, and stage of agreement totalling >1,500 agreements in >140 peace and transition processes. PA-X provides the full text of agreements, and qualitative and quantitative coding of 225 categories relating to politics, law, security, development, and implementation. Data can be aggregated or merged with conflict datasets, effectively providing many datasets within one database. PA-X supports new comparative research on peace agreements, but also on peace processes - enabling tracing of how actors and issues change over time - to inform understandings of conflict termination. We illustrate PA-X applications by showing that an intricate peace process history may reduce the likelihood of conflict recurrence, and that cumulative provisions addressing elections see the quality of subsequent post-conflict elections improve.

Christine Bell, 'Power-sharing, conflict resolution and women: A global reappraisal', (2018), Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Vol 24, pp 13-32
Abstract: Peace processes in intra-state conflict from 1990 to date have overwhelmingly institutionalized compromises between contenders for power in the form of power-sharing arrangements. This article focuses on political power-sharing, drawing qualitatively on a global data-set of peace agreements for the period. It argues that peace agreements indicate three main functions for political power-sharing: permanent group accommodation; transition management; and equitable indigenous representation in local autonomy regimes. Each of these power-sharing types raises different opportunities and challenges for women’s inclusion and equality. The analysis aims to inform women’s engagement with power-sharing design and implementation in fragile and conflict-affected states. It also aims to introduce the importance of function into a power-sharing literature most concerned with form, while illustrating the value of global data on peace agreements to ‘mid-level analysis’ capable of bridging between broad quantitative generalisations and detailed case study analysis.

Christine Bell, 'Peace settlements and Human Rights: A Post Cold-War circular history', (2017), Journal of Human Rights Practice, Vol 9, pp 358–378
Abstract: This article analyses the broad shifts in the relationship between peace settlements and human rights from 1990 to the present day. The article points to three phases of development: from 1990 to 2000, which saw a rise in peace processes and agreements and creative engagement with human rights; from 2000 to 2010, when new approaches to human rights and peacemaking were rapidly ‘normativized’ in new international legal standards, but at a cost of a more nuanced political practice; and from 2010 to the current date, an ‘era of disillusionment’ as regards the apparent failures of peacebuilding efforts, where human rights also have a more precarious global position. In the current era I suggest that we are witnessing renewed attention to the ‘politics of the local’ which questions and even rejects formalized human rights approaches to peacebuilding. Counter to the pessimism of the current era, I suggest that this new context may in fact offer new opportunities to return to the idea of human rights as a political practice. Rather than approaching rights as a set of external normative standards to propel liberal institution-building, human rights-based peacebuilding would aim to support a political practice in which rights are given meaning through the process by which they are ‘negotiated’ into being as part of an ongoing politics of inclusion. Such an approach would not only assist engagement with peace processes but might also invigorate a radical conflict prevention approach.

Christine Bell, Jan Pospisil, 'Navigating inclusion in transitions from conflict: The formalised political unsettlement', (2017), Journal of International Development, Vol 29, pp 576-593
Abstract: The project of ensuring that political settlements are inclusive is key to attempts to navigate transitions from conflict over the last quarter of a century or so. Examining such transitions, we point to the emergence of the ‘formalised political unsettlement’ as a persistent outcome. The formalised political unsettlement translates the disagreement at the heart of the conflict into a set of political and legal institutions for continuing negotiation. As the conditions of its emergence are unlikely to change and the formalised political unsettlement may be here to stay, we point to the opportunities for navigating between elite inclusion and broader societal inclusion that it offers.

Christine Bell, 'Introduction: Bargaining on constitutions – Political settlements and constitutional state-building', (2017), Global Constitutionalism, Vol 6, pp 13-32
Abstract: This article considers the relationship between constitutions and political settlements and locates the special issue articles within this wider discussion. The article points to the apparently paradoxical connection between disillusionment with internationalised state-building techniques on one hand, and increased international faith in constitution-making as a state-building tool on the other. Using understandings of the relationship of the constitution to political settlement which draws on conventional constitutional theory, it argues that the current context of negotiated transitions requires constitution-making to be approached with an eye to the distinctive dilemmas of statecraft that pertain in contemporary transitions. The most central dilemma concerns how power-balances between political/military elites can be broadened to ensure the constitution’s capacity to fulfil its normative role in restraining power and delivering broader social inclusion. The pieces which make up this special issue draw together development and legal discourses. This article suggests how constitutional theory provides a resource for those seeking to promote constitutionalism as a tool for reaching political settlements capable of resolving conflict. It also argues that those who seek to rely on constitutions for conflict resolution need to understand this enterprise as just as political and fraught as all other institution-building efforts.

Christine Bell, 'Lex pacificatoria Colombiana: Colombia’s peace accord in comparative perspective', (2017), American Journal of International Law, Vol AJIL Unbound Supplement vol 110, pp 165-171
Abstract: In this short piece, I open a conversation over how the Colombian Final Peace Accord provides evidence of, and a contribution to, a more general lex pacificatoria or “law of the peacemakers” (lex pax for short). In light of the Accord’s recent ballot defeat, I integrate into this assessment the merits of using a referendum to approve (in Colombia’s case “affirm or deny”) the Agreement as a whole. Throughout, I draw on a peace agreement database which has coded over one thousand four hundred peace agreements since 1990 for comparative insight.

Christine Bell, 'What We Talk About When We Talk About International Constitutional Law ', (2014), Transnational Legal Theory, Vol 5, pp 241-284
Abstract: Everyone is talking about international constitutional law: but several different conversations seem to be going on. A first conversation concerns how international law is developing its own constitution, and a second how domestic constitutional law is internationalising under supranational and transnational pressures. This article adds a third conversation concerning how international law regulates the framing of new or revised polities and their constitutional orders, which has largely been an outlier due to its lack of clear disciplinary frame as either international law or constitutional law. The article explores whether these different conversations, often assumed to be part of a common field of study, in fact talk to each other. Are they one or many? In conclusion it is suggested that the ‘lonely third’ conversation makes explicit a converging consensus across all three conversations, revolving around the idea that constitutional orders in either the domestic or international domain are shaped and made normative by the dialectical interaction between them. This converging consensus not only links all three conversations, but stands to re-work our conception of constitutional foundations in more traditional settled domestic contexts.

Christine Bell, 'Power-sharing and Human Rights Law ', (2013), International Journal of Human Rights, Vol 17, pp 204-37
Abstract: This article maps international human rights jurisprudence relating to the compatibility of power-sharing arrangements with human rights law. This mapping reveals a growing jurisprudence but one that appears piecemeal and internally inconsistent. The article suggests that human rights jurisprudence on power-sharing has varied over time, but also, by region, by group addressed, and according to the perceived purpose of the power-sharing mechanism. The article argues that the contingencies of human rights adjudication reflect underlying assessments of the legitimacy of the polity that are seldom explicitly articulated by human rights bodies. The relationship of adjudicationto legitimacy poses a central paradox for any attempt to articulate a more coherent normative approach: normative coherence appears to require human rights bodies to develop their understanding of the relationship of rights to governmental legitimacy, but such development appears beyond the reach of human rights bodies due to structural limits of international human rights law and its adjudicatory apparatus. This paradox drives the inconsistencies of how human rights bodies engage with power sharing and constitutes the real barrier to coherent normative development.

Christine Bell, Catherine O'Rourke, 'Peace Agreements or 'Pieces of Paper'?: The Impact of UNSC Resolution 1325 on Peace Processes and their Agreements', (2010), International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol 59, pp 941-80
Abstract: On the 31 October 2000 UNSC Resolution 1325 was adopted. The resolution provided for a range of measures aimed at the inclusion of women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflict. In particular, several of the resolution's provisions addressed the role of women and gender in peace negotiations and agreements. This article examines whether and how Resolution 1325 has impacted on the drafting of peace agreements. We analyse explicit references to women and gender in peace agreements from 1990 to 2010, providing a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the extent to which women and gender are addressed. We conclude by using our findings and analysis to address the relationship of feminist intervention to international law, and debates around the strategies and trade-offs which underlie feminist promotion and use of UN Security Council Resolutions in particular.

Christine Bell, 'Transitional Justice, Interdisciplinarity and the State of the 'Field' or 'Non-field' ', (2009), International Journal of Transitional Justice, Vol 3, pp 5-27
Abstract: Transitional justice appears to be an established field of scholarship connected to a field of practice on how to deal with past human rights abuses in societies in transition. The original focus of transitional justice discourse was that human rights law requires accountability in transitions, rooted in the discipline of law. Over time, this focus has been expanded to include a much broader range of mechanisms, goals and inquiries across a range of disciplines. In order to probe the current state of the field, this article argues against the current conception of transitional justice as a praxis-based interdisciplinary field. It suggests that there is a hidden politics to how transitional justice has been constructed as an interdisciplinary field that obscures tensions between the range of practices and goals that it now incorporates.

Christine Bell, Catherine O'Rourke, 'Braucht der Feminismus eine Theorie der Übergangsjustiz? ', (2008), Streit: Feministische Rechtszeitschrift, pp 51-63
Abstract: Unter 'Übergangsjustiz’ versteht man für gewöhnlich ein Maßnahmenpaket, mit dessen Hilfe Gesellschaften nach Beendigung eines gewalttätigen Konflikts versuchen, die Zuweisung von Verantwortlichkeiten für vergangene Geschehnisse vorzunehmen. Es besteht weitgehend Einigkeit darüber, dass die Idee der Übergangsjustiz ihren Ursprung in den Nürnberger Prozessen hat. Der Begriff selbst ist allerdings jüngeren Ursprungs und entstand nach 1990 im Zusammenhang mit dem Übergang, der sich in einigen Ländern von autoritären zu liberaldemokratischen Regierungsformen vollzogen hat. Während das Verständnis der Übergangsjustiz, das sich nach 1990 herausbildete, darauf abzielte, das Prinzip von Verantwortung für zurückliegende Handlungen in Gegenden zu tragen, die Konflikte hinter sich hatten und in denen zu diesem Zeitpunkt keine Verantwortlichkeitsmechanismen existierten, wird die ‚Normalisierung’ des Diskurses, die in letzter Zeit zu beobachten ist, von kritischen Theoretikerinnen – darunter auch von Feministinnen – als eine sehr viel ambivalentere Entwicklung betrachtet, die mit einem ausnahmezustandszentrierten Rechtsdenken, der Rechtfertigung internationaler Interventionen und der US-Hegemonie selbst verknüpft wird. Wie dem Wort ‚Übergang’ bereits zu entnehmen ist, dient die Übergangsjustiz einerseits einem instrumentellen politischen Zweck (nämlich dem, einen Übergang herbeizuführen); andererseits handelt es sich um eine besondere Form der Justiz, die nur für einen bestimmten begrenzten Zeitraum Gültigkeit hat.

Christine Bell, Colm Campbell, Fionnula Ní Aoláin, 'Transitional Justice: (Re)Conceptualising the Field', (2007), International Journal of Law in Context, Vol 3, pp 81-88
Abstract: Transitional justice discourse is generally accepted as having its foundations located in the theoretical, policy and practical implications of dealing with past human rights violations in societies that have experienced either repressive politics or violent conflict. Many theorists and policy-makers resolutely assume or defend the notion that ‘dealing with the past’ is where the debates about, and contribution of, the transitional justice paradigm uniquely lie. Understood in this way, transitional justice as a field of study has grown exponentially, comprising theoretical debates, the comparative assessment of domestic accountability schemes, international criminal justice, the study of truth commissions, and ethical-legal debate concerning the morality of compromise on accountability for gross and systematic violations of human rights.This foreword, building on the previous work of its authors,3 extends and expands our contention that transitional justice in this narrow sense must be located in a broader and more problematised understanding of justice in contemporary transitions. We also use the opportunity provided by this symposium to highlight an expansion of conceptual horizons being carried out at the Transitional Justice Institute (University of Ulster), and the innovative approach to the transitional justice field being advanced by a group of diverse inter-disciplinary scholars. The approach advocates both drawing on other disciplines, and firmly supporting parallel disciplinary fields to work alongside a legal research agenda; affirming the importance of rigorous cross-jurisdictional comparisons; and utilising empirical and socio-legal methodology to advance legal inquiry.

Christine Bell, Catherine O'Rourke, 'Does Feminism Need a Theory of Transitional Justice?: An Introductory Essay', (2007), International Journal of Transitional Justice, Vol 1, pp 23-44
Abstract: This essay surveys feminist scholarship and praxis on transitional justice, examining its ongoing contribution to the conceptualization and design of transitional justice mechanisms. We examine some of the gender implications of a specifically ‘transitional’ theory of justice. The essay concludes by proposing that feminist theory should focus on how transitional justice debates help or hinder broader projects of securing material gains for women through transition, rather than trying to fit a feminist notion of justice within transitional justice frameworks.

Christine Bell, ''Liberal Multiculturalism' and the Limits of International Law ', (2007), Ethnopolitics, Vol 6, pp 599-601
Abstract: Kymlicka's book tells a story of international law. It tells of how international legal developments in the area of minority rights and indigenous peoples and racial minorities constitute a process of ‘global diffusion of the political discourse of multiculturalism’ embedded in legal and quasi-legal norms (pp. 3–4, his emphasis).Kymlicka's main conclusions are directed at the future of international law. He suggests that an attempt at targeting specialist norms to the distinct needs of different minority groups – indigenous peoples, national minorities and other minorities – has been retreated from in a move back to generalized norms that do little to promote liberal multiculturalism. He tentatively argues for a revision of international law towards a more systematic attempt to target norms.In the spirit of engagement, this response questions Kymlicka's understanding of international law's means of production and therefore his evaluation of its potential role in underwriting liberal multiculturalism. To do this, I briefly tell a different story of where the international norms he refers to came from, and of what their limits are.

Christine Bell, Catherine O'Rourke, 'The People's Peace?: Peace Agreements, Civil Society, and Participatory Democracy', (2007), International Political Science Review, Vol 28, pp 293-324

Christine Bell, 'Peace Agreements: Their Nature and Legal Status', (2006), American Journal of International Law, Vol 100, pp 373-412

Christine Bell, Johanna Keenan, 'Lost on the way home: The right to life in Northern Ireland', (2005), Journal of Law and Society, Vol 32, pp 68-89
Abstract: This article starts from the premise that, through the Belfast Agreement, the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) was invested with a‘transitional justice’ function in Northern Ireland, unlike in the rest of the United Kingdom. The article evaluates how far the HRA has met this challenge by examining a case study of the right to life. The European Court's development of a procedural aspect to the right to life in the form of a right to an effective investigation, has implicated both institutional reform for the future, and also a need to revisit past state killings with their‘transitional justice’ implications. There have been some positive developments, but, despite this, domestic institutions and courts have largely failed to deliver on Article 2's procedural aspect. The article concludes by questioning whether the very design of the HRA has limited the possibilities for a‘transformational constitutionalism’ capable of incorporating Article 2's procedural right.

Christine Bell, Colm Campbell, Fionnula Ni Aolain, 'Justice Discourses in Transition ', (2004), Social and Legal Studies, Vol 13, pp 305-28
Abstract: This article asserts that ‘transitional justice’ analyses provide important tools in understanding how societies emerge from violent politics. It argues for a conception of transitional justice that goes beyond the question of dealing with the legacy of past human rights violations; rather, its focus is on a range of inter-related dilemmas relating to the role of law in transitional societies. Specifically, the article explores the pivotal and paradoxical role played by law and legal process in times of transition. It examines the tensions inherent in simultaneously reforming the law while utilizing legal form to bring about institutional transformation. These broad theoretical issues are addressed using Northern Ireland as a case study. The role of law is examined (and a reassessment of transition offered), through an exploration of five inter-linked areas: The relationship between law and conflict; the transformation of legal institutions; dealing with the past; political accommodation and minority rights; and the gap which occurs around gender and political transition. The article concludes by suggesting that only through a broader understanding of transitional justice, coupled with a nuanced reassertion of law’s domestic and international legitimacy, can the role of law in transitional societies be adequately understood.

Christine Bell, J. Keenan, 'Human Rights Nongovernmental Organizations and the Problems of Transition ', (2004), Human Rights Quarterly, Vol 26, pp 330-74
Abstract: Human rights protections are often a key dimension in peace agreements and settlements. One would expect the human rights nongovernmental organizations who worked to ensure such protection, to play a primary role in ensuring the implementation of human rights commitments. However, the same transitional landscape which holds out opportunities for improved human rights enforcement, also gives rise to problems for domestic human rights NGOs. Post-agreement, patterns of conflict, the human rights mechanisms available, and the human rights “players,” all mutate. This can create difficulties for human rights NGOs with respect to their mandate, priorities, funding, recruitment, and their relationships with other groups. This article describes and analyzes how transition affects domestic human rights NGOs using examples from different countries. In conclusion, a number of recommendations are made to improve human rights protection post-conflict.

Christine Bell, 'Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland ', (2002), Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 26, pp 1095-1147
Abstract: This Article "audits" Northern Ireland's discrete mechanisms for dealing with the past, with a view to exploring the wider transitional justice debates. An assessment of what has been done so far is vital to considering what the goals of addressing the past might be, what future developments are useful or required, and what kind of mechanisms might successfully be employed in achieving those goals.

Christine Bell, Kathleen Cavanaugh, 'Constructive Ambiguity or Internal Self-Determination?: Self-Determination, Minority Rights and the Belfast Agreement', (1998), Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 22, pp 1345-1371
Abstract: This Essay examines the Belfast Agreement (or "Agreement") in the light of international law on self-determination and minority rights. Northern Ireland cannot be evaluated in a vacuum; already it is being suggested that the Northern Ireland peace process and the formula devised in the 1998 Belfast Agreement may serve as a model for other divided societies. Indeed, this possibility was raised by President Clinton during his September 1998 visit to Belfast and was reiterated by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights on her more recent visit in December 1998. International law claims to address many of the issues central to ethnic conflict, preeminently self-determination, the legitimate basis for statehood, the exercise of state power, territorial integrity, and the cultural rights of groups and individuals. By comparing international law and the Belfast Agreement, this Essay examines whether the international instruments provide a useful measuring stick, or indeed whether the Belfast Agreement has anything to contribute to the current international debate on self-determination versus minority rights.


Christine Bell, 'Contending with the past Transitional Justice and political settlement processes' in Roger Duthie, Paul Seils (ed.) Justice Mosaics (International Center for Transitional Justice 2017) 85-115
Abstract: The chapter addresses the difficulties in designing and implementing transitional justice in societies attempting to move on from conflict. It does so in part to show how transitional justice mechanisms in transitions from conflict differ from those in transitions from authoritarianism, particularly with regard to the strategic choices that are involved. The author argues that transitional justice in post-conflict settings needs to be understood as part of the broader political settlement process in which domestic and international actors are engaged. This process attempts to (re)construct the state to reconfigure how power is held and exercised so as to include previously excluded actors and groups in ways that will end violent conflict. Centrally, peace processes involve negotiations between states and their non-state opponents, with a view to including the latter in new or revised state structures. Political bargaining occurs through both formal, usually elite-level, talks and other less visible informal processes.

Christine Bell, 'Women, peace negotiations, and peace agreements Opportunities and challenges' in Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Naomi Cahn, Dina Francesca Haynes, Nahla Valji (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Conflict (Oxford University Press 2017) 417-429
Abstract: Peace agreements, seeking to end conflict and establish a road map for the future, have significant effects on women's lives, yet historically women have been absent from peace processes. This chapter examines obstacles that often limit women's involvement in peace negotiations, despite the creation of an international framework that supports the inclusion of women in such processes. The chapter reviews the pragmatic opportunities and challenges for women in the pre-negotiation stage, the framework development/substantive stage, and the implementation/renegotiation stage. Among the challenges addressed are issues of access and power within negotiating spaces. The chapter describes instances where women have successfully participated in peace negotiations, and offers three directions for future growth: further involvement of women in negotiations; using a gender perspective in all aspects of the substantive agreement; and developing a long-term commitment to sustaining peace. © Oxford University Press 2018. All rights reserved.

Christine Bell, 'Political settlement and the new logic of hybrid self-determination Law and the new logics' in H. Patrick Glenn, Lionel D. Smith (ed.) Law and the New Logics (Cambridge University Press 2017) 129-161
Abstract: This chapter examines how a form of ‘fuzzy logic’ is assisting in managing and even resolving self-determination disputes, by enabling parties to break away from a binary logic of ‘unity versus secession’ so as to reach a new political settlement. The chapter contributes to understandings developed by Patrick Glenn in his book the COSMOPOLITAN STATE (2013) that lie at the heart of this collection, by showing how more multivalent understandings of the binaries at the heart of the self-determination norm, are providing a resource from which to create a zone of compromise in which fundamental differences at to the nature and legitimacy of the state can continue to be worked out. I suggest that these new approaches to self-determination are possible because they tap into the multivalence inherent in the formulation of a norm that itself responds to competing values that are necessary to stable statehood.To set out my argument in summary, I suggest that a new law of ‘hybrid self-determination’ is emerging as a legalised technique of conflict resolution. Self-determination law appears to hold out binary either/or options of unity or secession which create an ‘excluded middle’ – that is, a middle that is impossible because each option logically precludes the other. In contrast, the more ‘multivalent’ approach of the new law of hybrid self-determination conceives of the ‘excluded middle’ as a required space of conflict resolution. In contrast to binary logic's exclusion of this middle, the idea of re-inventing or creating space for the excluded middle speaks to a project of deliberately creating a conceptual space and a real-world political and legal institutions which can at once be both (and therefore neither) of the binary opposites in a new form of fuzzy statehood.The idea of re-introducing ‘the excluded middle’ attempts to capture, both as metaphor and as a practical political project, efforts to create political and legal spaces of transition from conflict that enable parties to move towards peaceful co-existence while fundamentally disagreeing as to the nature of the state in ways that were hitherto understood to be so irreconcilable as to prompt violence. The attempt to create a formerly ‘excluded middle’ is an attempt to square a circle or engage in ‘fuzzy logic’ by moving from a discourse of impossible polarised binary choices, to a discourse of accommodation.

Christine Bell, 'The fabric of Transitional Justice Binding local and global political settlements' in Transitional Justice (Routledge 2016)
Abstract: Introductory chapter

Christine Bell, 'International Law and processes of political settlement ' in Aileen McHarg, Tom Mullen, Alan Page, Neil Walker (ed.) The Scottish Independence Referendum (Oxford University Press 2016)

Christine Bell, 'International Law, the Scottish Independence Debate and Political Settlement in the UK ' in Aileen McHarg, Tom Mullen, Alan Page, Neil Walker (ed.) The Scottish Independence Referendum (Oxford University Press 2016)
Abstract: This chapter examines the role that international law played in the Scottish independence debates. I argue that international law - perhaps surprisingly - played a central role. International law was used by both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns in strategically instrumental ways, to bolster their political claims as to the consequences of independence. The unusual centrality of international law to British constitutional debate signals just how important international law has become with respect to processes of political settlement globally. I suggest that the creation of an international law of polity formation is itself a fast-moving international legal development, illustrating a dynamic whereby the attempt to regulate polity formation by reference to international legal argument carries an extraordinary capacity to reshape international law. I suggest that this was the case with the Scottish independence referendum.

Christine Bell, 'Of jus post bellum and lex pacificatoria What's in a Name?' in Carsten Stahn, Jennifer S. Easterday, Jens Iverson (ed.) Jus Post Bellum (Oxford University Press 2014) 181-206

Christine Bell, 'Peace Settlements and International Law From lex pacificatoria to jus post bellum' in Nigel D. White, Christian Henderson (ed.) Research Handbook on International Conflict and Security Law (Edward Elgar Publishing 2013) 499-546

Christine Bell, 'Human Rights and the Struggle for Change A Study in Self-Critical Legal Thought' in Rob Dickinson, Elena Katselli, Colin Murray, Ole W. Pedersen (ed.) Examining Critical Perspectives on Human Rights (Cambridge University Press 2012) 217-46

Christine Bell, 'Post-Conflict Accountability and the Reshaping of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law ' in Orna Ben-Naftali (ed.) International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press 2011) 328-70

Christine Bell, 'The 'New Law' of Transitional Justice ' in Kai Ambos, Judith Large, Marieke Wierda (ed.) Building a Future on Peace and Justice (Springer 2009) 105-26

Christine Bell, Colm Campbell, Fionnula Ni Aolain, 'The battle for Transitional Justice Hegemony, Iraq and International Law' in John Morison, Kieran McEvoy, Gordon Anthony (ed.) Judges, Transition and Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2006) 147-65
Abstract: This chapter explores the interplay of two seemingly contradictory international law trends impacting on transitional justice discourses. The first trend is the appearance of transitional justice as being an attempt to extend the reach of international law, and the other is its shift away from international law as a restraining force and its representation as being susceptible or subject to the interpretations and retrenchment of the hegemonic power which is the United States. The chapter also examines the relationship of the exercise of hegemonic power to international law.

Christine Bell, 'Teaching Law as Kafkaesque ' in John Morison, Christine Bell (ed.) Tall Stories? (Dartmouth Publishing 1996)

Working Papers

Robert Forster, Christine Bell, 'تحليل قائم على النوع الاجتماعي الاتفاقيات السلام في المرحلة ا نتقالية الليبية, 2017-2011 ' 2018
Abstract: A gender analysis of Libya's peace agreements during the transitional period post-2011. Agreements include local level and ceasefire agreements, as well as national-level agreements.

Christine Bell, 'International Law, the Scottish Independence Debate and Political Settlement in the UK ' 2016
Abstract: This chapter examines the role that international law played in the Scottish independence debates. I argue that international law - perhaps surprisingly - played a central role. International law was used by both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns in strategically instrumental ways, to bolster their political claims as to the consequences of independence. The unusual centrality of international law to British constitutional debate signals just how important international law has become with respect to processes of political settlement globally. I suggest that the creation of an international law of polity formation is itself a fast-moving international legal development, illustrating a dynamic whereby the attempt to regulate polity formation by reference to international legal argument carries an extraordinary capacity to re-shape international law. I suggest that this was the case with the Scottish independence referendum.

Christine Bell, 'What we talk about when we talk about Political Settlements: Towards Inclusive and Open Political Settlements in an Era of Disillusionment' 2015
Abstract: A discourse on the importance of understanding political settlements has achieved some salience in development academic and policy discussions. As a concept, however, the term political settlements can be (and has been) criticised: as lacking in clarity; as failing to do any real intellectual analytical work; and for being difficult to translate into practical strategies for change. This article reviews political settlement literature, and argues that ‘political settlement’ as an analytical concept has many of the flaws suggested, but that the central project of trying to understand the extent to which stopping violent conflict depends on powerful elites reaching deals on cooperation, and the ways in which such deals enable or limit projects of attempted transformation remains an important one. The article suggests that political settlement discourse has similarity with discourses emerging in other fields, all of which are attempting to respond to an ‘era of disillusionment’ in which moves towards democratisation or peace as an ‘end point’ of history, are now understand to have remained elusive despite sustained international intervention. The article suggests six critical research gaps which provide a focus for bringing work across the fields of development and conflict resolution together.

Christine Bell, 'Transitional Justice and Political Settlements ' 2015
Abstract: This draft article examines the role of transitional justice in societies emerging from conflict. Fundamentally, it addresses the ways in which the context of conflict resolution shapes the transitional justice mechanisms which emerge and constrains their implementation. The paper argues that transitional justice measures need to be understood as having a critical political settlement dimension, and as closely intertwined with the bargaining processes of political elites. These processes are important to non-repetition of human rights violations. The paper sets out the factors which influence design of transitional justice mechanisms, and in conclusion it suggests strategies for improving international intervention in the area.

Christine Bell, 'Peace Settlements and International Law: From lex pacificatoria to jus post bellum' 2012
Abstract: This paper will examine the ways in which peace settlements are producing a lex pacificatoria, a new 'law of the peacemakers', in a range of different areas relating to international conflict and security law. The essay illustrates how the practice of fashioning and implementing peace settlements is forcing a revision of relevant international law, as the traditional assumptions and boundaries of the relevant bodies of law do not fit within post-settlement political landscapes, are inadequate for enabling and regulating peace settlement implementation and do not contain guidance for the dilemmas faced post-settlement. The paper describes the ways in which a lack of fit between peace settlement dilemmas and international legal doctrines have generated new practices and new articulations of how international legal regimes regulate settlement implementation. Building on earlier arguments, I argue that these revisions constitute a new lex pacificatoria, or 'law of the peacemakers', in the form of a normativized practice of conflict resolution. The extent to which these new practices constitute 'law' at all is critically evaluated throughout the chapter. In conclusion, I consider whether it is possible, useful and desirable to frame and develop the 'new law' as a new jus post bellum drawing across existing regimes, to supplement the jus ad bellum and jus in bello.

Christine Bell, 'The Impact of Human Rights in the International System ' 2012
Abstract: Building on this week's exploration of what constitutes human rights, Christine Bell, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Edinburgh, discusses their intersection with international institutions and conflict resolution. She assesses whether international institutions are indeed the best place for human rights issues to be addressed, and uses her experience in peacebuilding and conflict resolution to examine the role human - and women's - rights play in peace processes and negotiations.