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Abstracts

Volume 11 No. 1

 

 

CHALLENGES OF PEACE RESEARCH

Luc Reychler

The Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) responds to one of the most frequently asked questions in the field of peace studies: “What are the challenges facing peace researchers in the 21 century?” In the first section he notes that, in some ways, the world is more peaceful now than at in any time in the past century, but then adds three sobering observations about the very high levels of manifest and potential violence, the predominantly reactive nature of most conflict prevention efforts, and the strong feelings of relative deprivation in the era of globalization. In the second section he states that if peace researchers want to make a greater difference, then they must challenge the ways and means of the current practice of peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building. The first challenge is not to lose sight of the big picture. The macro-perspective gives an overview of the necessary peace building efforts and allows the peace builders to oversee and coordinate what they are doing. The second challenge is to get a better understanding of the sustainable peace building architecture. Winning a war can sometimes be relatively easy – or at least rapid –, but winning the peace can be a far more complex and time consuming enterprise. The third challenge concerns the slow learning process. There is a need to build structures that support a better exchange of knowledge between the decision-makers, the practitioners in the field, and the research community. The fourth challenge is to deal more effectively with the peace building context, which is characterized by uncertainty, unpredictability, competing values and interests, and the struggle for power. The article ends with a plea for reflecting on the meaning of professionalism in peace building.

 

STATE-BUILDING IN BOSNIA: THE LIMITS OF ‘INFORMAL TRUSTEESHIP’

David Chandler

Many commentators suggest that the transition to Bosnian ownership has been held back by the Dayton framework, which created a weak central state and a country divided into two separate Entities, the Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation, with ten cantonal governments, as well as an autonomous region, Brcko. Ten years on, the idea that the post-war transition has been frustrated by a surfeit of Bosnian governing institutions, protected by their Dayton status, could not be further from the truth. Rather, the international powers of administration, under the Office of the High Representative, have been vastly increased, reducing the Bosnian institutions established by Dayton to administrative shells. There has been a transition away from Dayton, but this has been from the ad hoc regulatory controls of the self-selected ‘coalition of the willing’, the Peace Implementation Council, towards an expanded framework of European Union regulation, covering all aspects of the post-Dayton process. Dayton has created an ‘informal trusteeship’, with external institutions rewriting their mandates and powers. But despite the transformation in post-Dayton mechanisms, it is still too early to talk of any indications of a shift towards Bosnian ‘ownership’.

 

BEYOND THE TIME AND SPACE OF PEACE TALKS: RE-APPROPRIATING THE PEACE PROCESS IN SRI LANKA

Lorna McGregor

A peace process almost always acts as the catalyst to transition from conflict. In reality, the peace process is usually dominated by peace negotiations between the main contending parties who are able to direct the content and progress of the movement towards peace. However, as conflicts rarely reduce into bilateral disputes, the elite nature of peace talks can exclude or ignore broader, cross-cutting interests in society. Using the Sri Lankan peace process as the central case study, this article explores both the illegitimacy of containing the peace process at the macro-level and the valuable contribution of civil society subordinated in the efforts to achieve peace. The article concludes that all levels of society must be engaged in peace processes in order to realise a deep and sustainable peace.

REASON, PEACE, TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE, AND PUNISHMENT

Charles V. Blatz

Moving from repression or tyranny toward the rule of law and reason is fraught with difficulties. One question of transitional justice is whether those responsible for the horrors of the previous régime should be punished or whether those involved in the transition should travel a path toward forgiveness and unity. Within this article, it is urged that in the (re-)establishment of the rule of reason among all involved there is a commitment to peace as opposed to force. This commitment marks retribution and utilitarian punishment as incoherent and normatively indefensible. Resorting to punishment is the abandonment of reason, not its reinstatement. Indeed, the point can be generalized. Punishment, as resorting to force, is a move away from establishing or sustaining a framework of justification and its commitment to peace.

 

THE WAY TO PEACE: A BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE

Theresa Der-lan Yeh

This article provides a survey of the Buddhist vision of peace in the light of peace studies. According to the Buddha’s teaching of Dependent Origination, everything, including the psychophysical compound that we call individual, exists only in relation to other beings and things and undergoes constant changes responding and reacting to them. The next section examines the Buddhist perspective on the causes of violence and ways to prevent violence and realize peace. The last section explores the potentials of Buddhist contributions to the peacemaking efforts and the promotion of a culture of peace in today’s world. Believing that the root of violence is located within the mind, Buddhism has placed a greater urgency upon inner reflection. With the awakening to the interdependent reality, selfish compulsive responses will be replaced by loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. On the behavioral level, one practices peace daily by observing the Five Precept. To prevent in-group disputes, the Buddha teaches the six principles of cordiality in any community. As for inter-group or international affairs, Buddhist scriptures are rift with stories that teach nonviolent intervention. The article concludes the Buddhist worldview is surprisingly in accordance with the insights of peace studies in its process-oriented paradigm, its insistence on peace by peaceful means, and its holistic framework of peace, which would play a vital role in the efforts of bringing the culture of peace into existence around the world.

 

 

 
 
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