The ungovernance of peace: Transitional processes in contemporary conflictscapes


Abstract: Resolving armed conflict by forging an inclusive political settlement is the contemporary paradigm of international peacebuilding. War-to-peace transitions are envisioned as a sequenced process, cumulating in a signed comprehensive peace agreement as the central cornerstone on the pathway to normal politics. However, the reality of peace processes appears ungoverned. While peace negotiations may succeed in formalising political unsettlement at play and to tame violence, they regularly fail in resolving the radical disagreement at the heart of the conflict. Liberal peace governance, resting on the pillars of settlement, resolution, and relation, is unlikely to deliver its promised outcomes. The irresolvable discrepancy between the promise of liberal peace and its inability to deliver is the background against which peace ungovernance emerges. It operates under the premise of non-closure in enduring transitions, where time, space, and relationality are not subject to an agreed common understanding, but elements of strategy and politics.

This article is part of a special issue on Global Ungovernance, featuring contributions from Christine Bell, Deval Desai, Andrew Lang, and more.