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The Transitional Justice Peace Agreements Database.

About the Peace Agreement database

Content
This database contains information relation to over 640 documents addressing approximately 102 conflict dyads spanning 85 jurisdictions. The collection uses a working definition of peace agreements as: documents addressing militarily violent conflict with a view to ending it. The threshold used for militarily violent conflict is 25 conflict-related deaths in one calendar year (this threshold is drawn from the Uppsala Conflict Database Programme).  No temporal limit has been applied between the date of a given conflict meeting the threshold and the signing of a peace agreement. The collection therefore includes agreements aimed at averting nascent conflicts that subsequently met the threshold, and further implementation agreements signed beyond the duration of the violent conflict. The date of 1990 is used as a starting point because it broadly marks the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the peace agreement era.  Like any date, it results in some arbitrary exclusions.  In particular, agreement trails in Central America more properly start in 1989 and arguably even earlier in the Esquipulas process of the early 1980s.   

The collection includes: proposed agreements not accepted by all relevant parties (but setting a framework); agreements between some but not all parties to conflicts; agreements essentially imposed after a military victory; joint declarations largely rhetorical in nature; agreed accounts of meetings between parties even where these do not create substantive obligations. In cases where a series of partial agreements were later incorporated into a single framework agreement, all of the constituent agreements are listed separately. Where specific pieces of legislation, constitutions, interim constitutions, constitutional amendments, or UN Security Council resolutions were the outcomes of peace negotiations, these are included in the database; however, where these were viewed as far removed from the peace agreement they were not included.

 

Sources

No official system for registering peace agreements currently exists. Consequently, diverse electronic and documentary sources were used so as to compile the most comprehensive dataset of peace agreements. A number of web-based peace agreement collections exist which overlap but are not coterminous. The most notable among these are the collections hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) (www.usip.org/library/pa.html), INCORE’s current collection (www.incore.ulster.ac.uk), the Accord collection hosted by the think-tank Conciliation Resources (www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/index.php), and more recently, the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (http://peacemaker.unlb.org).  The database logged all of these peace agreements.  In addition peace agreements were sourced from websites that are dedicated to monitoring specific peace processes, such as the Center for International Policy’s Colombia Program (http://www.ciponline.org/colombia/) and Tamilnation.org. In many cases, state and non-state parties to conflicts have primary documents available online, such as the African National Congress in South Africa (http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/). Similarly, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/peace%20process/reference%20documents/) provides a comprehensive collection of treaties and agreements related to conflict in the Middle East, and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs makes all of the bilateral agreements between the UK and Ireland concerning the Northern Irish conflict publicly-available on its website (http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=334). More recently, the BBC website has posted the full text of agreements, where the agreements were the subject of news reports, for example, the Iraqi Constitution or the St Andrews Agreement concerning Northern Ireland. These websites were all checked for additional sources of primary documents.

In isolated cases, specifically Bosnia, Colombia, and India, the text of agreements were taken from dedicated publications.  In certain instances, where framework agreements referred in their text to earlier peace agreements that could not be sourced, we nevertheless accepted those references as sufficient evidence of the existence of the peace agreement.

Research drawing on civil and interstate datasets provided ongoing information on where conflicts as been resolved by negotiated settlement, so that the text of the settlements could be followed up. In addition, new peace agreements have been tracked by using peace negotiation monitoring services, in particular, the weekly electronic newsletter Peace Negotiations Watch published by US-based Public International Law and Policy Group (http://www.pilpg.org), and the monthly bulletin CrisisWatch of Brussels-based International Crisis Group (http://www.icg.org). The texts of agreements reported in these bulletins were subsequently sourced through the varied print and web-based resources discussed above, and by writing to the relevant governments, non state groups, and mediators.

In the database some agreements are listed for which a full text could not be traced.  This is indicated by an asterisk preceding the agreement title.  The agreements were included if they were listed in reputable sources (chiefly the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, Accord, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Monty Marshall’s online list of African Agreements, reports of the UN Secretary General, or other subsequent peace agreements whose text we did have).

 

Verification

The text of peace agreements have been taken from sources that have a reputation-based authority, but no further steps to verify each text has been taken.  It is difficult to suggest what might constitute an authoritative source, or adequate verification of a text signed by state and non-state actors.  The web-based sources used have been established for some time, and are widely used, meaning that they have garnered an authority.  Of the general web-based collections listed above, USIP is the only one with a clear verification mechanism, requiring at least one party to the agreement to verify the text before posting it to the collection.  The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) and Conciliation Resources’ partial web collection of peace agreements includes agreements only from jurisdictions in which the organization performed a non-governmental / mediation role, and these are therefore verified in the sense of having been accessed contemporaneously from local actors. In addition, CHD recently concluded a project reviewing amnesty provisions in all peace agreements (narrowly defined) signed between 1980 and 2006; this research appears to count agreements as ‘verified’ when taken from an authoritative source such as the web-based collections of USIP, INCORE and Conciliation Resources. UN Peacemaker notes its source for all peace agreements, and in processes in which the UN was involved these are often official UN documents.  In other instances agreements appear to be either sourced to one of the databases listed, or are marked ‘unverified’.  Accordingly, there appears to be no independent mechanism of verification.  Another authoritative source of peace agreements is the publication of the text of peace agreements within International Legal Materials.

 

Accuracy

While every possible effort has been taken to be accurate, the database remains a work in progress.  Any suggestions or other agreements should be forwarded to c.bell@ulster.ac.uk

For the development of the database and definitional issues see further

  • Bell, C On the Law of Peace: Peace Agreements and the Lex Pacificatoria (Oxford University Press 2008) http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780199226849, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Law-Peace-Agreements-Lex-Pacificatoria/dp/0199226849/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231327819&sr=8-3

  • Bell C ‘Peace Agreements: Their Nature and Legal Status’ (2006) American Journal of International Law 373-412

  • Bell C ‘Peace Agreements and Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2000), http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-829889-7 (hardback), http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-927096-1 (paperback), http://www.amazon.co.uk/Peace-Agreements-Human-Rights-Christine/dp/0199270961/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231327952&sr=8-

Database hosted on INCORE webservice.

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