Peace-Keeping and Peace-Making
by Stephen Ryan
Summary written by: Conflict Research Consortium Staff
Citation: "Peace-keeping and Peace-making,"chapt. in Ethnic Conflict and International Relations, (Dartmouth: Dartmouth Publishing, 1995), pp. 101-128.
Ryan examines cases of failed peace-building and peace-making. Ryan defines peace- building as "the practical implementation of peaceful social change through socio-economic reconstruction and development."[p. 102] Effective peace-building will also make use of strategies aimed at changing parties' attitudes. Ryan finds that the attitudes of ordinary people play an important role the success or failure of peace-building activities. Peace-making refers to political and diplomatic activity aimed at reconciling perceived conflicts of interests. Peace- making may involve negotiation, arbitration, mediation and conciliation. Peace-building and peace-keeping are not likely to be effective without effective peace-making.
Peace-building efforts can fail when the leaders move toward peace too quickly, before their constituents are ready. This occurred in Sri Lanka. In 1957 the Sinhalese Prime Minister signed an agreement with the Tamil minority granting them limited autonomy in language education and territory. The agreement sparked a violent backlash from the Sinhalese community, and the Prime Minister was assassinated in 1959. The agreement was abandoned. Similar popular opposition undermined peace agreements in 1960, and again in 1969.
In the early 1970s the British government took direct rule of Northern Ireland. The British planned to gradually transfer power back to Northern Ireland, and to establish a new Northern Ireland Parliament based on a system of proportional representation. Proportional representation would guarantee a number of assembly seats to the Catholic minority. While the Protestant leadership was willing to try the plan, the Ulster Workers' Council (an association of Protestant workers) was able to derail the plan through a campaign of intimidation and direct industrial action.
In 1990, the Bulgarian government made unilateral initiatives to the country's ethnic Turk population design to ease their plight. The prompted a popular backlash. Bulgarian nationalists staged mass demonstrations, and formed Committees for the Defense of the National Interest. Popular opposition forced the government to back away from some of their concessions.
Cyprus demonstrates the result of inadequate peace-making. Between 1968 and 1974 peace-keeping forces had been successful at controlling violence and creating security in Cyprus. However, there was no resolution of the basic issues of contention during that period, and the two sides to the conflict remained suspicious of each other. In 1974 violence resumed with a Greek sponsored coup and a Turkish invasion.
Effective peace-keeping requires that all the significant parties to the conflict desire to avoid violence. When peace-making fails, peace-keeping activities face unattractive options. In Rwanda the failure of peace-making left peace-keeping forces passive in the face of Rwandan violence. The failure of peace-making in Cyprus left peace-keeping forces faced with the task of perpetual conflict maintenance. Failed peace-making may also lead peace-keeping forces to become more deeply involved in the fighting. This has happened to the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka, and to UN peace-keeping forces in the former Yugoslavia.