Patrick Lyon, Staff Writer
Panel gathers to discuss effective structures of governance for resolving conflicts without resorting to direct violence
The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies hosted three distinguished speakers at a November 12 discussion titled “Predictors of Sustainable Peace.”
The lineup included David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute and co-author of a book manuscript, “Governance and Peace,” which was a topic of discussion for the panel; Peter Wallensteen, the Richard G. Starmann Senior Professor of Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute and the author of the forthcoming volume “Quality Peace”; and Caroline Hartzell, Professor of Political Science at Gettysburg College.
Wallensteen focused on the findings of a Kroc Institute study conducted over the last few years concerning the nature of lasting peace, the necessary criteria for this kind of peace and the ways in which it is sustained. This study sought to analyze the results of a variety of conflicts so as to discover which settlements and agreements produced the best quality long-term peace.
The distinction between positive and negative peace became an important facet of each speaker’s discussion. Negative peace is the mere end, or nonexistence, of war in a society, whereas positive peace consists of qualitative factors such as inclusiveness and protection for minorities.
There are two main ways to end a conflict: either one of the opponents gains a victory, or both sides achieve a peace agreement. In studying both of these situations across a broad spectrum of wars and social struggles, one may determine which outcome leads to more desirable results.
In the case of civil wars, analysts determined that a peace agreement was more likely to be long-term. The agreement also consistently produces a more democratic society, more cultural integration and a more widespread power share than an outcome with either side claiming victory.
When one side was victorious in a civil war, the society that followed was more likely to be magnanimous to the losing side, showing them a good deal of respect. These societies also are more likely to exhibit stability and predictability.
With inter-state issues, though, the study results were less concrete. The quality of the society in the case of a victory largely depended on the settlement of territorial issues, the level of democratization in both states and the amount of regional integration. Data showed that in these cases, solid peace-building is very rare.
Struggles on the worldwide scale were also a topic of study, and the determination was that there had been a shift in the resolution of most global conflicts since 1990. Pre-1990, most of these struggles ended in victory for one side. Arms and technology races abounded. Post-1990, however, most conflicts have ended with peace agreements. These peace attempts have met with varying levels of success, depending on the situation.
Wallensteen’s conclusion was that while the most successful resolution of conflicts on the global scale are unclear, a peace agreement for state issues is more likely to produce a beneficial result than an outright victory.
Cortright continued the discussion by relating the results of a different study executed by the Kroc Institute, focused not primarily on the resolution of conflict but on its cause. This study attempted to illuminate the key factors for avoiding war and societal issues through the lens of good governance.
Cortright made reference to the aspects of positive and negative peace, stressing that while positive peace is much more desirable, negative peace is a fundamental first step. Negative peace is linked with societal justice and leads to positive, quality peace. The distinction between these types can be blurred, as quality peace is needed to sustain the absence of war (negative peace).
The net result of this study was that the type of governance which led to the best results in terms of avoiding war was a thoroughly inclusive, participatory and accountable government. If a society allows access to natural resources as well as the right to voice concerns and the ability to hold the government responsible, then the chances for a successful peace are very high.
Hartzell concluded the discussion with a synthesis of these two presentations. She pointed out that these studies attempted to focus on the aspects that constitute peace and that the results overlap in a significant number of ways. This is clearly a variegated and faceted question, and the values of good peace are seen as more or less important depending on the values of a given society.
As Cortright said, “The challenge of building peace is multi-dimensional.” There is no “magic bullet” that leads to peace or prevents it, but the indicators discussed by this panel can pave the way to a more sustainable peace in the future.
Patrick Lyon is a freshman PLS major who is easily missed in a crowd. He is currently engaging in the famed “No Shave” November, for no particular reason. If you wish to contact him, you shouldn’t. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org