Read our key findings on implementation
The sustainability of any peace agreement depends on the quality and robustness of how it is implemented. Implementation is a long, complex and challenging process of ongoing negotiations. Read our key findings below.
The sustainability of any peace agreement depends on the quality and robustness of how it is implemented. Implementation is a long, complex and challenging process of ongoing negotiations (Bell and Molloy 2019; Molloy 2018).
PeaceRep research finds that implementing peace has two main goals: In the short term, implementation aims to end armed conflict; In the long term, the goal is to tackle the root causes of the conflict in order to prevent fighting from starting again (Ramsbotham, 2022).
Common challenges which may hamper implementation processes are the diversity of actors involved, presence of potential spoilers, capacity issues, and potential outcomes of on-going negotiations during the implementation stages (Molloy, 2018).
Additionally, our research finds that the ability to ‘bridge’ the short-term goal of ending violence and the long-term goal of tackling root causes is a key challenge for successful implementation of peace. Ideally, achieving short-term goals will help build confidence in the overall implementation process, without excluding opportunities to tackle root causes of the conflict in the long term (Ramsbotham, 2022).
There is a variety of ways in which implementation mechanisms can be designed. The design of an implementation processes is often as important as the terms of the agreement the implementation mechanisms is to oversee (Bell and Molloy, 2019).
Peace agreements can support their own implementation by establishing or mandating implementation bodies. Drawing on existing peace agreements, PSRP research finds that there are mechanisms and modalities which may be adopted in a context-sensitive way to support implementation (Bell and Molloy, 2019; Molloy, 2018).
Implementation can face blockages and resistance, including:
- Implementing short-term commitments in peace accords, to end armed conflict, is often at odds with implementing long-term commitments, to transform its root cases;
- Some of the most contentious wartime disputes are left to be resolved during implementation;
- Conflict parties have primary responsibility for implementation but often cannot deliver key reforms needed for sustainable peace;
- Key requirements for sustaining peace go beyond implementing a particular peace accord;
- Advancing gender inclusion in implementation faces multiple ‘layers’ of systemic resistance (Ramsbotham, 2022).
Other research addresses the financing of implementation through trust funds (Molloy, 2019; Kilmurray, 2019); the roles that implementation actors can play in supporting transitional arrangements, which is itself a form of implementation (Salmon 2020); and the gendered dynamics of implementation (O’Rourke, 2020; Swaine 2018, 2019).
Implementation support mechanisms
As implementation efforts often start swiftly after the signing of an accord, it is key to ensure that implementation support structures are agreed to in advance (Ramsbotham, 2020).
There are broadly four different permutations of actors which can be involved in the implementation mechanism, all of which bring different benefits: conflict protagonist only; civil society actors only; international actors only; or,hybrid formations (Bell and Molloy, 2019).
However, our research finds that third-party actors involved in monitoring agreements also play a role in shaping the dynamics of implementation and thus their contribution can go well beyond the technical aspects of their mandate (Molloy, 2018).
There are a range of possible options to integrate international actors in the implementation process. These include: including provisions on international assistance in the implementation of the agreement; international actors being tasked with overseeing implementation agreements as a whole; international actors can be involved with monitoring of an agreement; international actors can be nominated as ‘guarantors’ to the agreement; international actors can be involved through designing responsibility to other states or group of friendly states (Bell and Molloy, 2019).
Hybrid mechanisms act as a compromise between a distinctly national and a distinctly international approach. (Bell and Molloy, 2019) suggest that there should always be some mixture of international and national mechanisms, as this allows for national ownership and domestically led and dictated processes, combined with the support of an objective, international actor to help ensure parties distrusting of each other adhere to their side of the agreement.
Civil society actors can also be included in the implementation process. This can either follow on from an inclusive peace negotiation process, or the implementation can provide opportunity to expand elite actors included earlier in the process (Bell and Molloy, 2019).
The decision of who to include in implementation is often a difficult one, with the issue of inclusion commonly seen as a trade-off between the goal of ending violence on one hand, and ideal of legitimacy through inclusion on the other (Molloy, 2018; Bell and Molloy, 2019).
From the perspective of implementation, inclusion in implementation mechanisms is important to ensure hard-fought gains in earlier stages are protected and implemented in the on-going negotiations the implementation stage represents (Molloy, 2018).
Delivering for inclusion early in an implementation process is a key way of securing popular support for implementation, and therefore contribute to a more sustainable peace process (Ramsbotham, 2022).
Inclusive implementation mechanisms open up the space to include women in the implementation process (Bell and Molloy, 2019). However, our research finds that implementation of provisions for women fall below average, and only 3% of peace agreements in the PA-X Gender database provide for the inclusion of women in implementation of the agreement (Bell and McNicholl, 2019; PA-X Gender).
There is no clear correlation between the type of actors included in an implementation mechanism and its effectiveness. Instead, the specific national, international or civil society actors included and their role within the context of the conflict and the nature of the agreement in question is key (Bell and Molloy, 2019; Molloy, 2018).
Regional organisations frequently offer support for peace agreement implementation. In African countries, there have been mixed outcomes for transition and implementation support from the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Constraints included:
- The organisations’ low capacity to provide sustained support;
- Discords among member states and within the international community;
- Poorly designed and resourced transitional mechanisms and, most importantly;
- Signatories’ limited commitment to implement agreements (Aeby, 2022).
The role of mediators changes greatly with the conclusion of framework agreements. These narrow the scope for negotiation and require mediators to achieve parties’ adherence to accords rather than commitment making. Instead of solely facilitating dialogue, African mediators have sought to give direction to talks over implementation modalities and disputes by putting forward detailed solutions, exerting pressure and leveraging resolutions they solicited from the organisations’ decision-making organs (Aeby, 2022).
Our research highlights the importance of independent, well-capacitated and credible implementation monitoring mechanisms (IMM) to inform the work of mediators and guarantors, keep track of progress, resolve disputes and render transitional mechanisms transparent to signatories and societal stakeholders (Aeby, 2022).
Other key design choices
As implementation processes are on-going negotiations, the question of the flexibility of monitoring mechanisms is key in implementation design (Molloy, 2018).
Different mechanisms for dealing with disputes adopted by agreements can, broadly speaking, be split into two approaches: ‘adjunctive enforcement’ mechanisms, which provide some sort of third party ruling and proscribed remedy relating to the breakdown, and; ‘flexible dispute resolution’ mechanism, which provide for a measure of ongoing mediation of the peace agreement implementation (Bell and Molloy, 2019: Molloy, 2018).
Timeframes are key to hold signatories to account, but often represent another tricky issue in implementation mechanism design and may backfire if deadlines are not met. For peace implementation to be successful, key milestones can be set for long-term goals which are harder to schedule (Ramsbotham, 2022).
Increasing specific indicators and priorities at the sub-national level is key for successful implementation, whilst capacity building often helps strengthen countries’ ability to carry through local-level implementation (Molloy 2018; Bell and Molloy, 2019).
To give their peace agreements legal life, state and non-state parties have invented domestic legalization mechanisms designed to bring their law in line with the terms of their agreements. Those mechanisms have taken a variety of forms, either through legislation/decree, amendment, or replacement, and they have either adhered to the current constitution’s procedures or broken with the order entirely. Each come with their own risks, as well as their own opportunities for close tailoring to the needs and interests of the parties (Davies, 2021).
Legalization of peace agreements matters greatly to parties. Firstly, legalization helps mitigate commitment problems – it places a legal bind on the parties that becomes costly to break. Secondly, legalization establishes exactly how the domestic legal order will look when it is brought in line with the peace agreement’s terms – making it a centrally important part of the implementation process (Davies, 2021).
Whether parties choose to legalize through legislation/decree, amendment, or replacement, and by breaking their constitution or adhering to it, depends on a variety of factors specific to their interests, stakeholders, situation, and strengths. These factors include practicability; perceptions of the old order’s legitimacy; the interests and relative strengths of the parties; the threat of spoilers; and the preferences of the international community (Davies, 2021).
While post-conflict implementation can be a hazardous and constantly evolving maze to navigate, the proper legalization provision can help parties come out on the other side confident in the future of their institutions and the new order they have established together (Davies, 2021).
How we measure and describe peace defines the ‘goal’ towards which peacebuilding is striving. However, there are clear limitations of what can be realistically measured. Our research finds that there is a certain level of discontent among practitioners associated with current measurements of peace, which often fail to reflect the contextual realities, multiple-narratives, and need for local ownership in peace processes. In order to respond to the limitations of existing measurements of peace, it is important to spend more time on conceptualizing indicators (Molloy, 2018).