Professor of Constitutional Law

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

Biography

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.

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Available Ph.D. research projects:
Peace processes and international law Peace processes and constitutional law Transitional Justice

Websites

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)

Human Rights (Honours)

Public Law of the UK and Scotland (Ordinary)

PhD Supervisees

Megan Bastick  'Military responses to sexual violence in armed conflict'

Jessica Bird  'Segregation arrangements in Scottish prisons: a socio-spatial history'

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

Books and Reports

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, Unsettling Bargains?: Power-sharing and the Inclusion of Women in Peace Negotiations, (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, Helia Farahnoosh, Chronology of the Peace Process and Peace Agreements between the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, (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, 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.

Articles

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.

Chapters

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

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.