This research report explores how state and non-state parties can grant their peace agreements legal status through domestic law. In particular, it provides a typology for how parties have granted peace agreements legal status through these domestic processes and evaluates the benefits and risks of each legalization route. The report concludes with a set of factors parties in the future should consider when attempting to do the same.
The report argues that, while state and non-state parties to a peace agreement have great interest in giving it a legal status, only agreements between states are granted treaty status under international law. Domestic law, therefore, can be (and has been) one way to legalize the entirety of their agreements. By turning to domestic law, parties must think carefully about how best to bring their state’s legal order in line with the terms of the peace agreement, many of which may reorganize the nature of the state itself. This report also emphasizes that the design of the legalization process can have enormous implications for the success of the post-conflict implementation period. Poor design can open the door to successful challenge by spoilers, to the frustration of implementation efforts, and even, in part, to resumption of the conflict. It is thus paramount that parties and practitioners both understand the options available to them and their associated risks.
The first part of this report draws on comparative examples to provide a comprehensive description of what each of those options can and have looked like. The second part puts forward a set of factors parties and practitioners can use to evaluate which choice may best fit their particular context. In doing so, it fills a gap in the literature on the legal status of peace agreements, which has thus far focused predominantly on international law’s potential to grant legal status.