International Relations

Johanna Söderström

The continuity of elites after war remains the norm despite efforts and recommendations to remove them. In order to better understand how peace develops, it is thus essential to pay attention to warring elites who take on prominent roles in post-war politics. This chapter examines the degree of relational peace in the case of Cambodia, where a peace process was initiated in the 1990s. This case is thus particularly useful if we want to understand the development of peace in the long run. Cambodia is an extreme case in terms of elite continuity, and is often categorized as a hybrid peace case. This chapter moves beyond that categorization by examining a range of signatories to peace agreements and their relations with their counterparts in the peace agreement from the time the agreement was signed until April 2018. It examines the political relationship among the domestic peace signatories of the Paris Peace Accords (October 23, 1991) over twenty-six years in Cambodia. It draws on content analysis of newspaper articles where signatories are mentioned in order to study how elite relations across a previously antagonistic divide have developed. The focus on newspaper articles inherently means a focus on the public role and statements of elites, as these internal elites shape both macro-politics and public opinion. Many years after signing the peace agreement, there are still reasons for concern. Overall, the main relationship is characterized by domination, distrust, and ideas of dependency.

in Relational peace practices

This book contributes to scholarly debates about what peace is and how it can be studied by developing a novel framework and tools for studying peace as relational. Drawing primarily on peace and conflict research and sociology, it defines relational peace as entailing non-domination, deliberation, and cooperation between actors in a dyad, that the actors recognize and trust each other, and that they conceive their relationship as one between fellows or friends. The book provides tools for empirical studies of relational peace and applies the framework in several sites: Cyprus, Cambodia, South Africa, Abkhazia, Transnistria/Russia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Myanmar. It shows how the framework can be applied across cases, actors, geographical locations, levels of analysis, types of data, and stages of peace processes. The book offers guidance on how to use the framework empirically with a variety of methods. Each case study in the book also makes unique contributions to specific literatures, such as civil–military relations, frozen peacebuilding, nation-building, mediation, arts-based peacebuilding initiatives, post-war elite studies, ideational analysis, and post-Soviet studies and everyday peace. The book offers nuanced understandings of peace in particular settings and illustrates the multifaceted nature of peaceful relations. It shows how relationships are formed though repeated interactions, exchanges, and practices. The book also demonstrates that studying how actors understand these relationships is key for analyzing the nature of peace and its dynamic and processual character. By depicting relational peace practices, the book expands the field of studying peace beyond the absence of war.

Anna Jarstad
,
Johanna Söderström
, and
Malin Åkebo

The final chapter draws theoretical and comparative conclusions based on the case studies in the book. The relational approach contributes to a more nuanced understanding of peace beyond the absence of war by recognizing peace as a web of multiple interactions across time, space, and levels. The chapter discusses the advantages and challenges for studying peace as relational and the implications of this approach for theory, methodology, and policy. Relational peace practices need to be studied in an actor-centric and processual way, as it is the repeated interactions between actors that over time establish the practices of the relationship. The concluding chapter also addresses some of the methodological consequences and tradeoffs as identified throughout the book, particularly those related to delimiting actors, distinguishing appropriate data and sources for use when studying processes over time. The empirical study of relational peace allows us to see the varied practices of interactions, for instance, as well as the range of attitudes and ideas that relations are imbued with. It also helps us identify important future visions of the relationship, which can be important for the overall understanding and assessment of relational peace as well as for what is needed for peace to deepen. Importantly, the framework can be applied at different levels of analysis and allows us to identify changes in relationships and how relationships evolve over time. The chapter ends with some implications for policy and some suggestions of future avenues of research.

in Relational peace practices
Niklas Eklund
,
Malin Eklund Wimelius
, and
Jörgen Elfving

To the extent that ideas can be seen as guides for action we must identify, interpret, and understand those that shape peace. This chapter aims to use the behavioral, subjective, and ideational elements of relational peace outlined in the Introduction of this volume in an analysis of Russian ideas about peace. With its global influence on the rise, more knowledge about how Russia understands peace and peacekeeping has been called for. We operationalize the elements of relational peace in an ideational analysis of open sources in the Russian language and ask to what extent Russian ideas about peace reflect a relational view. A cross-section of governmental, academic, and other written sources are analyzed and described, providing insight into the current ideational patterns and linkages dominating public discourse in Russia. Particular attention is given to Russian peacekeeping in Transnistria and Abkhazia, where Russia was a key actor in endeavors to put an end to hostilities in the early 1990s. The text contributes to post-Soviet studies with an in-depth analysis of how Russian ideas about peace flow from politically enabling and fundamental carrier ideas.

in Relational peace practices
Jason Klocek

The longstanding political dispute in Cyprus is routinely understood in terms of negative peace. The island has been free of armed conflict since 1974, even while the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities remain divided. But how useful is this conceptualization given a half-century of failed peace plans? This chapter applies the relational peace framework to develop an alternative understanding of Europe’s oldest unresolved political conflict. It primarily traces variation in the behavioral interactions, subjective attitudes, and ideas of relationship of the political elites in the Greek Cypriot community and between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders. The analysis employs between-methods triangulation to increase reliability and reduce researcher bias. Data are drawn from diverse primary and secondary sources, including historical records, public opinion surveys, policy reports, and English-language news sources. A relational view of peace has important implications for both preventing renewed violence on the island and resolving the Cyprus problem. It highlights considerable variation within Greek Cypriot society, an issue overlooked by a negative peace framework. Attention to this within-group competition and cooperation demonstrates that the Cyprus conflict is less static than past analyses suggest. The relational peace framework further brings to light an asymmetry between intercommunal and intracommunal relations. Efforts to advance the former are often undermined and exacerbated by within-group differences. Finally, the chapter shifts the analytic lens away from ethnonationalism and foreign interests to the strategic preferences and behaviors of each community. This underscores how peace on the island is difficult to achieve while within-group competition remains high.

in Relational peace practices
Relational peace and local experiences of the state in Myanmar
Elisabeth Olivius
and
Jenny Hedström

Between 2011 and 2021, political reforms and renewed peace efforts significantly reduced violence in many of Myanmar’s conflict-affected regions. Despite this, people living in these areas did not agree that they enjoyed peace; rather, this period is described as a continuation of the war’s many injustices, marked by discrimination, marginalization, and fear. This chapter argues that a relational analysis of peace can enable us to make sense of this gap between drastically different assessments of peace and conflict. The analysis draws on focus group discussions, interviews, and participant observation with local civilians, civil society activists, and members of non-state armed groups conducted in 2019 in two regions, Kayah and Mon States. A relational perspective uncovers the fact that the fundamental logics of key conflict relationships, between the Myanmar state and ethnic minority groups and communities, have not been transformed by the peace process but instead manifest themselves in new ways, whereby armed violence has been replaced by other forms of domination, underpinned by inequality, non-recognition, and distrust. Exploring these relational dynamics enables us to pinpoint areas and issues that prevent the emergence of a sustainable and legitimate peace, and demonstrate the importance of relational aspects for people’s experiences of everyday peace.

in Relational peace practices
Isabel Bramsen

The chapter studies relational peace at the negotiation table in the Philippine peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and discusses this in relation to the larger web of relations shaping the peace talks. Based on direct observations from the third round of talks in 2017 and interviews with representatives of the two parties, the chapter analyzes the behavioural interactions, intersubjective attitudes, and ideas of the relationship. The chapter shows that the relationship between the representatives can be characterized by one of “peace between fellows” and even in some cases “peace between friends.” The chapter also describes how the peace talks broke down just after the third round despite the good atmosphere at the table and discusses this breakdown in relation to three other sets of relations shaping the talks: (1) intra-party relations; (2) relations between the leaders of the respective parties; and (3) relations to and within civil society. Hence, the chapter sketches the broader web of relations within which peace talks unfold. It concludes by drawing lessons for relational peace and pointing toward the importance of transforming the Philippine political system to enable conflict by political rather than violent means.

in Relational peace practices
Zoltán Gábor Szűcs

The chapter makes the case for a realist approach to the political-ethical experience of living in illiberal regimes. It starts with an explanation for why realism is neither an ideal nor a non-ideal theory: it is because political realism (in its every form) is based on the rejection of what the chapter calls the justificatory model of normative political theory. The justificatory model contends that a satisfactory normative explanation of any political-ethical phenomenon has to rest on a coherent ethical theory. Realism, in contrast, argues that normative political theory cannot be merely an expanded, applied form of ethical theory. It does not necessarily mean that a realist should deny the relevance of moral considerations to politics (even though radical realists might sometimes think so) but at least that any strict distinction between moral and non-moral, facts and values is untenable and that, accordingly, a genuinely political ethics should focus on the all-things-considered answers to the everyday challenges of politics (as liberal realists tend to think). In other words, the chapter argues that it is possible to offer a normative political theory outside the narrow constraints of the justificatory model. The chapter then turns to methodological questions and argues that there are at least two main forms of realist political theory: genealogy (preferred mostly by radical realists) and ethical phenomenology (preferred by liberal realists). After examining both approaches, the chapter contends that the specific purposes of the book an ethical phenomenology with a genealogical edge would be the best option.

in Political ethics in illiberal regimes
Zoltán Gábor Szűcs

The chapter, largely inspired by theories of political obligation, addresses the political-ethical experience of the citizens of illiberal regimes qua citizens. The chapter starts with an explanation of how membership constitutes citizenship, why various forms of membership like membership in a polity, in a political community, and in a political regime largely but not entirely overlap, and why they can even come into conflict with each other. In a regime built on a very strong conviction that the source of the survival of the regime is dependent on widespread actual political support and electoral success and allowing to play political hardball but not encouraging massive falsification of the electoral results, the political office of citizens cannot be simplified into how people are manipulated and oppressed. In fact, people are given plenty of reasons for accepting the terms of the regime and much more than that. It is they who can ultimately decide the fate of the regime. The chapter focuses on three distinct faces of citizenship: citizens as subjects, individuals, and the main constituency of the regime. It shows how these three faces of citizenship are affected by the five principles of action characterizing illiberal regimes and how they shape the demands of constitutional purpose, linkage, and integrity of the office of citizenship in an illiberal regime. The chapter also examines the difference between civil activism and elected magistracy. It argues that civil activism is a member of the family of offices of citizens.

in Political ethics in illiberal regimes
Zoltán Gábor Szűcs

The chapter addresses the political-ethical experience of living in illiberal regimes with the help of the examination of a family of political offices that all have an independent source of authority from politics. The chapter discusses three distinct members of this family of political offices: the offices of civil servants, experts, and judges. In each case, the chapter identifies the independent source of authority that plays a constitutive role in the formation of these offices: the common good, epistemic authority, and justice. Civil servants are supposed to impartially administer the common good and interact with politicians to the extent their office demands them to do so. Experts are supposed to make claims on the basis of their unique access to a body of expert knowledge and they interact with politics insofar as their knowledge has political implications. Judges are supposed to serve justice and defend it against unwarranted political interference. The chapter explains the characteristically illiberal experience of these offices by showing how the demands of their constitutional purposes, linkage, and integrity are filtered through the five basic principles of action of illiberal regimes (egalitarian, competitive, electoral, oligarchic, and self-preservative). It also examines how the political virtues of illiberal constancy and loyalty are needed to meet the complicated challenges of holding these offices. The main difficulty, of course, is that all the principles of action of illiberal regimes are hardly compatible with respecting the claims for independence of the holders of these offices, making the life of these officeholders very tiresome.

in Political ethics in illiberal regimes