Designing Peace: Cyprus and Institutional Innovations in Divided Societies

Designing Peace: Cyprus and Institutional Innovations in Divided Societies

Designing Peace: Cyprus and Institutional Innovations in Divided Societies

Designing Peace: Cyprus and Institutional Innovations in Divided Societies


Why do some societies choose to adopt federal settlements in the face of acute ethnic conflict, while others do not? Neophytos Loizides examines how acrimoniously divided Cyprus could re-unify by adopting a federal and consociational arrangement inspiring similar attempts in its region.

Loizides asserts that institutional innovation is key in designing peace processes. Analyzing power-sharing in Northern Ireland, the return of displaced persons in Bosnia, and the preparatory mandate referendum in South Africa, he shows how divided societies have implemented novel solutions despite conditions that initially seemed prohibitive. Turning to Cyprus, he chronicles the breakthrough that led to the exhumations of the missing after 2003, and observes that a society's choice of narratives and institutions can overcome structural constraints. While Loizides points to the relative absence of successful federal and consociational arrangements among societies evolving from the "post-Ottoman space," he argues that neither elites nor broader societies in the region must be held hostages to the past.

To effect lasting and positive change, Loizides encourages stakeholders in divided societies to be prepared to identify, redesign, and implement innovative new institutions. Examining successful peace mediations and identifying the shared experience and commonalities between Cyprus and other divided societies promises not only to inform the tackling of the Cyprus problem but also to provide transferable knowledge with broader implications for the fields of peace studies and conflict resolution.


This book confronts the challenges of institutional design and innovation in contemporary conflict management. It bridges a gap in the peace and conflict literature by integrating understudied and apparently unrelated institutional innovations into a coherent body of transferable knowledge for divided societies. While focusing on Cyprus, it also draws on the experience of Bosnia, South Africa, and Northern Ireland to explore themes of intractability and institutional design, emphasizing institutions that sustain power-sharing, federalism, and reconciliation under ostensibly prohibitive conditions. It argues that seemingly unimportant institutional changes could have major effects on the durability of peace agreements, including their endorsement by the indigenous leadership and the wider public. Finally, it identifies effective support mechanisms for victim groups, including displaced persons and relatives of missing persons, noting strategies to maintain grassroots support for peace.

About 40 percent of the world’s population currently live in countries that can be considered or claim to be federal (Watts 2002). the global spread of federal and consociational arrangements (i.e., power-sharing) has triggered a burgeoning literature across various disciplines. Yet little attention has focused on how conflict-ridden societies come to endorse power-sharing settlements or other conflict-mitigating institutions, including federal arrangements. What is particularly puzzling is the wide variation in the global distribution of such settlements, the distinctiveness of alternative institutional designs, and the curious absence of power-sharing arrangements from certain parts of the globe facing acute conflict. Why do some societies choose federal or consociational institutions to accommodate ethnic or religious diversity while others fail to do so? How do postconflict societies combine such . . .

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