Christine Bell on geopolitical dimensions of the Russia-Ukraine conflict

Christine Bell has authored blog and a short report on geopolitical settlement in the context of Ukraine-Russia negotiations, entitled “Multilevel Peace Agreement Design: Dealing with Geopolitical Support”.

Professor Bell’s report addresses the geopolitical dimensions of the conflict, what type of agreement or agreements might be used to resolve these issues, and the ways in which this could be linked to any Russia-Ukraine settlement. The report is not an attempt to assume or specify settlement terms for any party: rather, the report argues that geopolitical agreement will likely be needed to capture commitments to issues in the conflict that require the active commitment and support of third-party states and organisations to be addressed. If geopolitical conflict is part of the problem, it has to be part of the solution.  The Report aims to provide comparative information on process-design for geopolitical agreement, to those who are engaged in any settlement process at whatever point in the conflict and on whatever terms they decide are appropriate.

The report provides examples of how geopolitical agreement has been reached and formalised in other conflict contexts – including contexts of negotiated settlement, and contexts of victory and defeat. It touches on the issues that logically would need geopolitical settlement to be dealt with.  It sets out options for the form in which agreement could be reached.  It concludes by affirming that the design of the modality of agreement closely relates to how substantive issues are to be framed and resolved. Options regarding ‘form’ themselves have substantive implications for the position taken by parties with respect to the conflict. Creative use of the form of agreement is therefore important to being able to reach agreement on substance.

The main options set out are: use of UN Security Council Resolution; use of Treaty; signature or guarantor, or signing of an independent ‘International actor’ agreement as part of a package of any Russian-Ukraine agreement; and using ‘all of the above’ to create a multi-layered form of settlement.

This work is part of an ongoing process of considering how our ongoing comparative research might be useful to Ukraine.  As part of a responsive approach to research, PeaceRep consortium researchers – many of whom are based at LSE – have published a number of blogs and reports, set out below. This work also draws also on the PA-X Peace Agreement Database, University of Edinburgh, which tracks all peace processes from January 1990 to date.