The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice runs a Working Paper Series, this is a continuation of the Working Paper Series run by the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice. We welcome papers on any aspect, both domestically and globally, of conflict transformation and social justice; we particularly welcome papers informed by perspectives from across different disciplines and work which is comparative in scope; these comparisons may be across space and/or through time.
Some of the papers published so far focus on post-conflict Northern Ireland, while others deal with the similarities and differences between the Basque and the Irish conflict situation, or with Human Rights, migration and the larger EU/ European context.
All papers are refereed, and we aim to return comments to the author within 4-6 weeks of submission. Papers are accepted on the understanding that they represent the views of the author and not those of the Institute itself.
Papers should be no longer than 8,000 words, excluding references, and must include a 100 word abstract and up to five keywords. Working papers accepted for the series will be given an ISSN number and appear on the Institute website.
How to submit
Papers for consideration for inclusion in the series should be sent to the Brett Walker at email@example.com.
Electronic submission is preferred but if this is not possible, please post your paper to the following address:
The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice,
18-19 University Square,
Views on the Constitution From Across the UK: Lessons from a Series of Roundtables
Institute for Government
Between October 2022 and February 2023, the Institute for Government and the Bennett Institute for Public Policy hosted four roundtables across the UK on the constitution as part of our review of the UK constitution. Participants at these roundtables included academics, current and former civil servants, journalists, former politicians and members of the private sector, who came together to discuss issues of governance, the constitution and Westminster’s relationship with the rest of the UK.
Keywords: Public policy, governance, constitution
Delivering Good Government in Northern Ireland: Summary of a Private Roundtable
Institute for Government
This roundtable, co-hosted by the Mitchell Institute at Queen’s University Belfast, the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and the Institute for Government, brought together key experts from the media, the third sector, business, academia and the civil service to discuss how we can achieve better government for the people of Northern Ireland. The discussion will inform the work of the Institute for Government / Bennett Review of the UK Constitution, which is exploring ideas about how to address issues of governance and constitutional reform in all parts of the UK.
Keywords: Public policy, governance, constitution, reform
Towards peaceful and plural politics in Afghanistan: Rethinking approaches to Afghan peace-making in the wake of the Taliban takeover
Professor Michael Semple in collaboration with Atta ur Rahman Saleem
Research for this report was conducted during the winter of 2021/22 and spring of 2022, in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. During this period, the war in Afghanistan was reconfigured as the struggle by the authoritarian Islamist rulers to impose themselves on a diverse society plus an armed conflict between these ruling Taliban and nationalist resistance forces plus dissident Islamists.
Keywords: Afghanistan, Peace, Politics, Conflict
Alternative paths to peace - Restoring the local in Afghan peace-making
Professor Michael Semple
This study aims to draw attention to the potential for local peace initiatives in Afghanistan to contribute to the broader national peace process. It is based upon the experience of pilot support of local peace initiatives in five areas of the country during 2020 and 2021, along with reflections from Afghan practitioners of local peace-making.
Keywords: Afghanistan, Peace initiatives, Peace Process
An independent assessment of the Afghan peace process June 2018 – May 2021
Professor Michael Semple, Robin L. Raphel and Shams Rasikh
Research for this report was conducted during the winter of 2020/21 and spring of 2021, a period in which the U.S. failed in efforts to achieve agreement with the Afghan Taliban on post-withdrawal government arrangements, but went ahead with complete withdrawal, nonetheless. Thus, at the time that the report was finalised, the Afghan Republic was in power but facing the Taliban’s final military offensive.
Keywords: Afghanistan, Peace Process, Taliban
Navigating Research on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in the Post-Yugoslav Space
This paper examines two focal conceptual elements of understanding how survivors of sexual violence are interpreted in the post-Yugoslav nation states of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo. By offering an explanation of social identity theory in practice, prevalent perceptions of gender within the region highlight dominant perceptions of survivors. Furthermore, this paper critically examines and justifies the use of a feminist standpoint epistemology as a foundation on which to navigate the heavily gendered research topic of conflict-related sexual violence.
Keywords: Conflict-related sexual violence, post-Yugoslavia, gender, social identity theory, feminist standpoint epistemology.
The Impact of Conflict on Violence Against Women in Belfast
Violence against women (VAW) during and post-conflict is integrally linked to the legacy of the conflict and to the intersectionality of cultural, religious, and gender expectations in Northern Ireland. Through interviews with community members from both communities (loyalists/unionists and republicans/nationalists) and with non-aligned community members as well as analysis of police reports of violence, this paper reports the patterns discovered. During the conflict, victims reported VAW to in-group unofficial justice systems; post-conflict, beginning at the Good Friday Agreement, reporting of VAW to police authorities dramatically increased. VAW in the loyalist and republican communities is more similar than different, but significant community differences do exist.
Keywords: violence against women; gender-based violence; conflict; Northern Ireland; Belfast.
Underage sex and the best interests of the child: how both excessive control and neglected needs could pose threats to the sexual autonomy and wellbeing of young people.
This article discusses how both excessive control and neglected needs pose threats to adolescents’ sexual autonomy and wellbeing. The debate explores the dilemma of under-age sex; the responsibilities of the State; parental responsibilities; and the best interests of the child. Using Ireland as a case study and using case vignettes, the article explores the tensions between autonomy and protection; capacity versus best interests. Difficulties resolving these tensions have an impact on young people in that they are often not given the support or information they need. The article concludes by suggesting a way forward that prioritises young people’s right to comprehensive sexuality education, sexual wellbeing and development of self-efficacy.
Keywords: Adolescents; Autonomy; Capacity; the State and Parents
Northern Ireland: The Political Economy of Peace
Professor Paul Teague
Nearly 30 years of conflict had two main impacts on the N. Ireland economy: one was to accelerate deindustrialization and the other was to make the region overly dependent on a large public sector funded by a subvention from the British Exchequer. This paper assesses the economic impact of almost two decades of peace since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998. It finds that the structure of the regional economy remains more or less the same: the N. Ireland economy remains dependent on a large public sector, although the composition of public expenditure has changed significantly during the period. It finds that the mainstay of the private sector is low value-added business activity in the non-tradable sector. More positively, it finds that there has been a decisive improvement in the labour market performance of Catholics in the region. However, it finds that few meaningful advances that been made towards an-island economy.
Keywords: regional development, Northern Ireland, fiscal transfers, the economics of conflict, fair employment
Economic reform, Infrastructure development and bridge-building? Terrence O’Neill, J.R. Jayewardene and managing conflict in deeply divided societies
Dr Chaminda Weerawardhana
This paper sheds light upon the political legacies of two leaders, Terence O’Neill (1914-1990) and Junius Richard Jayewardene (1906-1996). O’Neill’s premiership (1963-1969) led to unprecedented developments in Northern Ireland and Jayewardene’s presidency (1978-1989) led to a tremendous socioeconomic and political transformation in Sri Lanka. Examining their economic reform agendas and overall impact on the rise of ethno-national conflict in their respective societies, this paper reflects upon the feasibility of a combination of market reform and infrastructure development, an assimilationist outlook (in the case of O’Neill), limited decentralisation and constitutional reform (in the case of Jayewardene) in managing ethno-national divisions in deeply-divided societies.
Keywords: majoritarian politics, market reform, infrastructure development, constitutional reform
Financial reintegration assistance for veterans of the Irish revolution (1916-23): Post-conflict policy in an historical setting
Dr Marie Coleman
In the aftermath of the Irish revolution and Civil War the governments of independent Ireland introduced various compensation schemes to provide financial reintegration assistance to revolutionary veterans. This would be recognised today as part of a programme for DDR. This paper will examine various service and disability pensions paid to veterans in the context of literature on post-conflict reintegration. It will examine various challenges to reintegration in an effort to analyse the success of revolutionary compensation as a post-conflict reintegration mechanism in independent Ireland after 1922.
Keywords: Ireland, Irish revolution, pensions, veterans, reintegration assistance, IRA
From Belfast to Bilbao: The Basque Experience with the Irish Model
Eileen Paquette Jack
This paper examines the izquierda Abertzale (Basque Nationalist Left) experience of the Irish model. Drawing upon conflict transformation scholars, the paper works to determine if the Irish model serves as a tool of conflict transformation. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), the paper argues that it is a tool, and focuses on the specific finding that it is one of many learning tools in the international sphere. It suggests that this theme can be generalized and could be found in other case studies. The paper is located within the discipline of peace and conflict studies, but uses a method from psychology.
Key words: Conflict transformation, Basque Country, Irish model, Peace Studies
Addressing Migrant Bodies on Europe’s Southern Frontier
Dr Simon Robins, Dr Iosif Kovras and Dr Anna Vallianatou
In recent years thousands of undocumented migrants have died in shipwrecks at the coasts of Greece, Spain and Italy in their effort to enter the EU. This brief draws on field research on the Greek island of Lesbos, one of the key entry points of migrants to the EU that has seen repeated incidents of deadly shipwrecks. The note underlines the gaps and flaws in the policies pursued by local, national and EU authorities. Research shows that although several local agencies engage with the problem, none assumes responsibility. It reveals the absence of any provision for identification of victims or to inform families of deaths, and limited efforts to dignify the bodies with a decent burial. The needs of families of dead migrants are excluded from the official management of the issue.
Public Opinion and the future of Northern Ireland
Professor John Coakley
In the late twentieth century, as the view that the constitutional status of Northern Ireland would be determined by the wishes of a majority gained increasing acceptance, demographic and electoral data appeared to point towards a stable position: a predominantly Protestant population, strongly supporting the United Kingdom, would continue to outvote the Catholic minority, which supported Irish unity. Towards the end of the twentieth century, however, this axiom was challenged by two new realities: a shift in the demographic balance in favour of Catholics, offset by growing support among Catholics for retention of the Union. The explicit articulation in the Good Friday agreement of 1998 of the principle that constitutional change would be determined by democratic wishes appeared to give this matter added salience. But the complex character of the agreement’s provisions for constitutional change, the complexity of patterns of demographic development, the subtleties of public opinion and shifting geopolitical realities make it difficult to predict future trends and outcomes with any degree of certainty.
Keywords: Northern Ireland, public opinion, demography, devolution, British-Irish relations
Human Rights, Local Plights: The implications of Rights Discourses in the Struggle over Arab-Palestinian Bedouin Land in Israel
Dr Alexander Koensler
A widely diffused, engaged approach understands human rights as an opportunity to enhance moral progress. Less visible has a critical realm of research that reveals the often-ambiguous social life of human rights discourses. This article draws on a specific case study from the intricate issue of how activism for Arab-Palestinian Bedouin citizens in Southern Israel engages with the global human rights discourse. It follows the implications of mobilization, focusing on events related to a campaign against house demolitions in informal, unrecognised settlements. The case shows how human rights discourses tend to silence the agency of political subjects, victimizing and patronizing those who seek emancipation. The ethnographic insights emphasize the role of a range of carnivalesque and spontaneous acts of resistance, which subvert the patronizing implications of the human rights language.
Keywords: Human rights, activism, Negev desert, Israel/Palestine, resistance
Northern Ireland Case Study #2
Dr Jim Nehring
This paper reports findings from a case study of a secondary school in Northern Ireland. The case study reported here is part of a larger study of secondary schools across Northern Ireland which is, in turn, part of a still larger international study of secondary schools in three nations: The United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel. The international study has been led by James Nehring and Stacy Szczesiul of the University of Massachusetts Lowell; Martin Hagan and Frank Hennessy of St. Mary’s University College, Belfast; and Rivka Eisikovits, Lily Orland-Barak and Merav Ben-Nun of the University of Haifa. This case study was prepared by James Nehring.
Reduce the Place to Rubble ... or Go and Live There Yourself: European Union Cross-Border Cooperation and Conflict Amelioration
Dr Cathal McCall
The relevance of European Union (EU) cross-border cooperation for European border conflict amelioration may be questioned in the contemporary global climate of threat and insecurity posed by forces of 'dark globalisation'. In any case, empirical evidence exposes the limitations of cross-border cooperation in advancing conflict amelioration in some border regions. Nevertheless, in an enlarged EU which encompasses Central and East European member states and reaches out to neighbouring states through cross-border cooperation initiatives the number of real and potential border conflicts with which it is concerned has risen exponentially. Fortunately, there are cases of EU 'borderscapes' that have adopted a cross-border 'peace-building from below' approach leading to border conflict amelioration. Unfortunately, countervailing pressures on EU cross-border cooperation from border security regimes (principally Schengen), the Eurozone crisis, EU budgetary constraints, the conceptualization of 'Europe as Empire', and the possible reconfiguration of the EU itself compromises this approach. Therefore, the path of European integration may well shift from one of inter-state peace-building and regional cross-border cooperation after the Second World War to border conflict and coercion in constituting and reconstituting state borders after the reconfiguration of the EU.
Keywords: European Union, cross-border cooperation, conflict amelioration