Peace and Political Unsettlement


The lens of formalized political unsettlement asks for pathways in conflict transitions where the radical disagreement at the heart of the conflict cannot be resolved. It questions the idea of conflict resolution on the assumption that power-sharing arrangements in peace agreements may indeed be able to stop violent conflict but, in turn, perpetuate the contestation between the conflict parties. In formalizing the existing political unsettlement, they cannot transform conflict into normal politics as it is often promised. They can, however, tame armed violence and so prepare the ground for creative modes of transitional engagement. Even though they may appear stuck and deadlocked, situations of formalized political unsettlement are fluid and constantly changing. Pathways for structural engagement – “hooks” – can open up and be fostered and utilized for transformational change. Conflict parties and other stakeholders also apply creative nonsolutions to avoid triggering a relapse into violence and keep the transition moving. Peace in formalized political unsettlement is, thus, not built but instead evolves out of a long-term transitional process.