How Can Peace Agreements Be Implemented and Lasting?

25 January 2022

If we ask the mediators, what is the measure of success for mediation or negotiation? One of the common answers is to reach a peace agreement, and perhaps an agreement to cooperate. The answer is certainly not wrong. However, CRU found, after going through the mediation process and the parties reached a peace agreement and (possibly) a cooperation agreement, then the parties returned to their respective lives with a sense of relief, but nothing changed according to the agreement.

The agreement that has been signed by the parties may not be implemented or an agreement has started to be implemented, but then another problem arises. Also happen, the agreement, was sued by one of the parties. Eventually the conflict continued, and the agreement document became a historical document in the archives. Why did that happen?

There are several possibilities why this possibly happened. Among them, the agreement of the parties is not realistic. Due to the strong pressure from the parties or the enthusiasm to immediately resolve the conflict, the parties put forward the points of agreement whose implementation was beyond their capabilities. This can happen since the parties do not have adequate resources. Or as it often happens, the points of agreement are beyond their authority as the representative of the party. For example, one party promises to relinquish the right to manage a land, but it turns out that that party is only authorized to access land use, not land ownership.

Another possibility is if one of the parties or other stakeholders does not participate in the mediation process and feels neglected. In addition to the two things mentioned above, it is also possible that the agreements that have been reached become irrelevant and cannot be implemented due to the dynamics of policies, regulations or politics.

Then how can these possibilities be anticipated in the mediation process and in the formulation of agreements? This brings us to some of the basics about mediation, including:

  • Carefully identify all stakeholders and their interests. Not only the parties directly involved in the conflict, but also other parties with an interest in the subject matter of the conflict, not only in the initial claims expressed, but also considering the legitimate interests behind the claims.
  • The demands submitted are realistic enough to be fulfilled by other parties. These demands will be considered in the formulation of an agreement that can optimally integrate the interests of the parties or the common ground. This is the basis for achieving a win-win solution.
  • Realistic, tangible and well-scheduled plan for implementing the agreement. It should be realized that the agreement is only half the way, and the true conflict is only finished after the agreement is implemented. For this reason, it is necessary to develop a work plan explaining the types of activities, the implementers and the mutually agreed time. Included in this work plan is risk analysis and anticipation of possible changes in the context of policies and regulations.
  • Development of sufficient basic information for negotiations and formulation of agreements. The parties and mediators need to understand the subject of the conflict, the factors that cause and trigger the conflict, the stakeholders and their interests and also alternative solutions that can be considered. Therefore, basic information that built through a series of studies before and during the conflict management process is a necessary.
  • Monitoring plan involving stakeholders and authorities. To ensure the fulfillment of the agreement, the implementation of the agreement shall be monitored together. This joint monitoring is also provide opportunity to collect promises and remind each other of the parties in regards to the agreements that have been reached, as well as build cooperation to solve common problems.
  • Long-term oriented mediator, able to reduce excessive emotions and invite the parties to consider their long-term interests. Often in the negotiation process, the parties are carried away by emotions and want to reach an agreement immediately. This often leads the parties to provide agreements that are not optimal, for example, are not long-term oriented. Here, it is important for the mediator to act as a guide who can manage the mediation process properly and wisely.

In short, in aims for an agreement or treaty could resolve a conflict, the agreement must be anticipatory, have a long-term perspective and realistic. Some of the points above may help to guide us there. However, how this is being implemented is certainly a challenge for us all.

Photo by Dorothea OLDANI on Unsplash