Negotiating Peace After Wars of Atrocity

On April 19th, IPI, together with the Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations, cohosted a policy forum on negotiating peace after armed conflict in which war crimes have taken place.

The discussion explored the dilemmas that arise when peacemakers seem to face choices between settling an armed conflict and holding to account those responsible for severe human rights violations. Ensuring accountability for past atrocities is today often widely expected, by the international community and by survivors, and is essential in the long term for sustainably building peace. While peace and justice go hand in hand, delivering on justice is often complex and challenging in the short term. Negotiated settlements to armed conflict have the potential to end immediate, often devastating suffering. Processes to establish accountability prior to negotiations or to include accountability mechanisms as part of political processes risk deterring those suspected of war crimes from coming to the negotiating table or from cooperating.

This policy forum drew on the experiences of senior practitioners with expertise in peace negotiations and transitional justice in countries such as Colombia, Liberia, Libya, and Sierra Leone. It examined the influence of international criminal courts on armed conflict, including whether prosecutions deter further abuses or whether they can risk doing damage to a peace process. This discussion came amid ongoing atrocities and calls for accountability in armed conflicts in Syria and elsewhere, and at a time of growing threats of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

Opening and Concluding Remarks:
H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of the Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations

Natalia Arboleda, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations
Priscilla Hayner, Member of the UN’s Standby Team on Mediation and author of the recent book: The Peacemaker’s Paradox: Pursuing Justice in the Shadow of Conflict
Teresa Whitfield, Director, Policy and Mediation Division at the UN Department of Political Affairs
Ruti Teitel, Ernst C. Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law at New York Law School

Jake Sherman, IPI Director of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations