Skip to main content

Helpdesk Report: K4D - Lessons from Peace Processes

+ 6 more
Publication date
View original


What are the general lessons from peace agreements that illustrate why peace agreements may or may not work? What are the favourable conditions for a successful power sharing agreement? Issues of interest include 'do no harm' principles, secondary benefits, how to incentivise elite actors.

1. Overview

Lesson learning has played an important role in advancing peace processes across the globe.
Although no two conflicts are alike there are a number of wider lessons and practices that can be transferred to other peace processes. However, it is important to understand the differences and similarities in order to develop the lessons within the dynamics of the particular case study (McGarry, 1998). This rapid review synthesises findings from rigorous academic, practitioner, and policy references.

Lessons can be learnt from both successful and failed peace processes, as both increase one’s knowledge and understanding of the process and help in the context-driven development of a new peace process (Rose, 1991). This report includes lessons from both successes and failures and will borrow from the case studies of Northern Ireland, South Africa, Sudan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, and Iraq. These case studies have been chosen for the range of lessons they offer on a number of processes. Rather than dividing the analysis into case studies, this review examines the stages of the peace process as this allows for a better conceptualisation of lessons. Dividing the report into the three stages (negotiations, agreements and implementation) enables an examination of quantitative literature that utilises a number of case studies, thus providing a more thorough overview of the lessons available.