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PSRP launch new publication with British Academy on local peace processes

Sat 4 September 2021

Local peace processes

The Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) has launched a new publication with the British Academy, which shares insight into local peace processes in a collection of multi-disciplinary studies.

Local peace initiatives deserve greater attention as a peacemaking tool. This important new resource from the British Academy builds on the PSRP's research into local peace.

Contributors to the collection argue that a wide range of local peace agreements merit greater attention for their potential as peacemaking tools.

The publication titled 'Local Peace Processes', sets out recommendations for addressing some of the difficulties and failures of national peace processes by focusing on progress at a local level, arguing that nationwide military and political activities should be coordinated to ensure these do not undermine local commitments to peace processes.

About the publication

In recent years, the difficulties and failures of national level peace processes have prompted increased attention on ‘the local’ as a space of conflict resolution. The papers presented here suggest both the existence of local peacemaking, and the impossibility of delimiting what is merely ‘local’ about it. This in turn points to a need for a new political imaginary for peace processes, which would go beyond the idea that it is about brokering elite pacts reached in a comprehensive peace agreement.

The contributions to this Collection all conclude that local agreements deserve greater attention as a peacemaking tool. They also demonstrate variation in how local agreements are used within and across contexts, and indicate significant involvement of international actors in many contexts.

This publication follows a series of Joint Analysis Workshops on Local Peace Processes undertaken in 2019 and 2020. The workshops were organised by the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) through the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR), the University of Edinburgh, and British Academy, and were funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). These workshops offered a range of interdisciplinary and geographical perspectives, and brought together academics, policymakers, officials and practitioners, some of whom are represented in the following contributions.

Download full publication (PDF): Local Peace Processes

Download key findings (PDF) 

Prof Christine Bell
Local peace processes have the potential to reduce levels of conflict at critical moments when national peace processes are forestalled or delayed. Written and oral local agreements – often brokered in minority languages, and other non-written, non-verbal forms such as rituals and property exchanges – are often hugely significant at this local level.

Insights from the humanities and social sciences help to broaden our understanding of different forms of trust-building and decision-making processes, in particular the importance of local peace negotiations. The wealth of multi-disciplinary research and evidence in this collection broadens our understanding of what it takes to build peace successfully in different contexts. It should be considered further by international actors, international donors and the research community.
Professor Christine Bell
Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Edinburgh Law School and Director of the PSRP