Peace agreements and the institutionalisation of human rights: a multi-level analysis

Parties to peace agreements have long considered human rights as central to the consolidation of peace and democracy in post-conflict settings. Yet, understanding of the formal institutional mechanisms that peace processes put in place to promote and protect human rights is rather limited. This article informs this gap using an original multi-level analysis of 126 peace agreements and three main categories of institutions involved in securing human rights implementation after conflict – international and regional institutions for promoting and protecting rights, as well as national human rights ombudsmen and commissions. We find that peace agreements localise human rights implementation after the end of conflict, relying more on national human rights institutions than international ones to monitor and implement human rights domestically and assist national executives with processes of transition away from conflict and toward liberal democracy. While regional and international institutions like the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe are included in some peace agreements, their roles are much more limited and nearly exclusively aimed at offering support to new and existing national human rights commissions. We illustrate our analysis with two case studies of peace agreements in Cambodia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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