Year of selection 2016
Institution Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals
The majority of modern peace agreements fail within 5 years. What is spoiling these negotiated peace settlements? Often peace agreements include rights granted to minorities in order to address perceived grievances. Given the rise of ideological extremism, the issue of granting such rights to groups with the potential to return to violence is of tremendous relevance. Observing that relatively little attention has been given to the question, Dr. Lesley-Ann Daniels aims to shed light on how minority rights can impact peace stability. Her objective is to provide insight on how to design successful peace agreements according to the circumstances in order to reduce the risk of countries falling back into violence.
Identity claims are a key element of most contemporary conflicts, including terrorism. « Using identity markers as fuel for mobilization and conflict onset is a well-known mechanism. Yet, we know little about the hangover of such mobilization at the end of a conflict, particularly if identity demands have been, at least partially, fulfilled », Dr. Lesley-Ann Daniels points out. Could giving in to demands associated with identity claims have a perverse impact on post-conflict environments? Could the granting of rights to groups with the potential to return to violence endanger post-conflict peace? Can access to new rights, including change in access to power, be used by entrepreneurs to fuel yet another onset of violence?
Shedding light on the impact of fulfilling identity demands on long-term peace stability
To answer these crucial questions, Dr. Lesley-Ann Daniels will first look at the outcome of a large number of past peace settlements. « This first step will give me an overview of what connections can be drawn between granting rights to minorities and long-term efficiency of peace treaties », she explains. The next step will be to look in detail at the post-settlement trajectories of two specific but comparable conflicts that took place in the Aceh region in Indonesia and the Mindanao region in the Philippines. Both cases were selected because of their similarities – the initial motivation for the conflict was to gain more autonomy, the peace settlements included provisions for minorities –, and because of their divergent long-term outcomes. Examining these two comparable cases, Dr. Daniels aims to understand why in Indonesia, the situation is settled, and why in the Philippines, a break-away group is attempting to continue violence. On one hand, Dr. Lesley-Ann Daniels will examine how granting rights to minorities has affected elite decision making. On the other hand, she will also conduct surveys to examine how the population reacted to the granting of new rights, and whether mobilization messages still resonated afterwards.
Surprisingly, research has given little attention to the impact of minority rights on conflict settling so far. By addressing the issue, Dr. Lesley-Ann Daniels aims to provide much-needed insight on how to tackle conflicts and violence that arise from ideological identity claims. « Ideology can be a very powerful force. The motivation for my research comes from the realization that we really need to know more about this phenomenon and about how to address it », she concludes. Her goal is to bring about a better understanding of the circumstances under which granting rights to minorities contributes to positive or negative post-conflict environments.