Academic journal article Global Governance

Social Peace vs. Security Peace

Academic journal article Global Governance

Social Peace vs. Security Peace

Article excerpt

This article examines the extent to which contemporary peace accords are orientated toward social or security concerns by drawing on data from the Peace Accords Matrix that comprises thirty-four comprehensive agreements signed in the post-Cold War period. Key findings confirm that, while social aspects of peace have been widely emphasized in many academic studies, formal peace processes are still largely focused on a security agenda in terms of peace accord provisions and implementation priorities. Although social peace has received increased emphasis in recent peace accords, more attention in contemporary peacebuilding is still given to security peace.

Keywords: social peace, security peace, peace accords, the liberal peace.


This article is concerned with the emphasis given to the security and social aspects of contemporary peace accords. We focus on the extent to which social or security provisions are included in peace accords, and the extent to which these provisions are implemented. The issue of social peace versus security peace connects directly with debates on the nature of peace. The characterization of peace has been a matter of near-constant philosophical and political debate since the peace of Carthage (and probably before). (1) It connects, among other things, with equally contested debates on the causation of war, the ethics of war, and the extent to which peace can (and should) be the preserve of the elite or the possession of the many.

In this article, we aim to add some empirical clarity to debates that are often enjoined from ideological perspectives, or from the vantage point of a limited number of case studies. By drawing on data from the Peace Accords Matrix (PAM2) of thirty-four comprehensive peace accords (CPAs) reached in the 1989-2012 period, this article provides a comparative overview of the nature of peace reached in the recent past. We are aware that "peace" is much more than the signing and implementation of a peace accord, and of the possible limitations of relying on datasets to interrogate the nature of peace. (3) A fascinating literature provides a useful corrective to the uncritical acceptance of datasets, (4) and we would situate our analysis in the need for mixed and complementary methodologies. Indeed, unusually for a peace and conflict studies article relying on a dataset, we are in sympathy with critical approaches to the study of peace. Such studies, influenced by anthropology, postcolonialism, and feminism, are mindful of how power intersects discourses of, and practices of, peace. (5) We see our focus on the social, as well as the security, aspects of peace as contributing to a critical agenda that goes beyond narrow statist and realist paradigms that see peace as primarily an issue of security and the ending of direct violence.

A healthy skepticism to econometric studies of peace notwithstanding, we maintain that it is legitimate to examine aggregate data on peace accords. The accords represent public, and often legally binding, declarations of peace. The analysis in this article is mainly based on the data from PAM--a database that examines fifty-one different types of provisions in thirty-four CPAs reached in the post-Cold War period and the extent to which those provisions were implemented. (6) Moreover, the data of the PAM project are cross-referenced with a number of other datasets and sources such as the Uppsala Conflict Data Program and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre.

The article proceeds by outlining the centrality of the social peace versus security peace debate to long-running arguments on the nature of peace. We use these debates, and related policy documents, to construct an analytical framework that can be used to examine the extent to which contemporary peace is oriented to social or security aspects. We then use this analytical framework to examine the content and implementation of contemporary peace accords. …

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