How Peace Agreements Provide for Implementation


Peace negotiations capture national and international attention at the ‘handshake moment’. Yet, even while a peace agreement is being celebrated, often people living in the country concerned ask themselves three things:

  • Is the war really over?
  • Who ‘really won’- in which way was the agreement ‘tilted’?
  • Who will hold the warring parties to the agreement they have signed?

While the signature of the peace agreement signals the end of one process, it also constitutes the beginning of another and can create premature expectations that the war has ended, with normalcy soon to resume (Paladini and Molloy, 2019). In reality, the sustainability of any peace accord depends on the quality and robustness of how it is implemented, and implementation is a long and complex process replete with challenges and difficulties. The complex reality is that there is no magic third party ‘enforcement’ tool for peace agreements, which can stand above and outside the parties and require them to honour their commitments. There are, however, ways in which implementation of a peace agreement can be promoted, encouraged, enabled, and even – to some extent – enforced. This report examines the ways in which peace agreements provide for their own implementation or the implementation of specific issues committed to in a peace accord. The report illustrates that the particular context will shape what implementation mechanisms are chosen, but that there are a variety of mechanisms and modalities to support the implementation of a peace agreement, which can be illustrated from examining what existing peace agreements have put in place. The task of those negotiating implementation mechanisms, therefore, is not whether to include implementation mechanisms but how to do so in ways that are context sensitive, relevant, and accepted by the key parties, whose implementation activities are critical to the peace agreement sustaining and delivering peace in practice.