Human Rights in Territorial Peace Agreements

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Justice and peace are commonly seen as mutually reinforcing and key international peacebuilding documents stress the importance of human rights. Is this apparent normative shift reflected in post-Cold War peace agreements? The existing literature is divided on this issue but has crucially treated both conflicts and settlements as aggregate categories. This article argues that the conflict type and the settlement’s ‘core deal’ impact on the inclusion, or exclusion, of human rights provisions. Based on new coding of the 29 comprehensive agreements signed between 1990 and 2010, it compares peace settlements signed in territorial and non-territorial conflicts, and settlements with and without territorial autonomy. Qualitative Comparative Analysis is used to examine the different combinations of conditions that led to the inclusion of human rights. The analysis finds that agreements signed in territorial conflicts are significantly less likely to include effective human rights provisions, especially if the settlement includes territorial autonomy. Moreover, such provisions tend to be the result of high levels of international involvement and the consequent lack of local commitment, or outright resistance, undermines their implementation. These findings point to important trade-offs between group rights and individual rights, and qualifies the notion of a liberal peace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-549
Number of pages23
Issue number4
Early online date15 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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© British International Studies Association 2019. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • Peace agreements
  • Human Rights
  • territorial autonomy
  • territorial conflicts

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