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Models of civil society and their implications for the Northern Ireland peace process
2004, Farrington, Christopher
A number of authors have argued that civil society was important in bringing about political change in Northern Ireland in 1998. Through the Opsahl Commission in 1992 and the ‘Yes’ Campaign in 1998, civil society offered new challenges to the established political parties, enabled a level of public participation and ownership of the peace talks and eased the path to a negotiated settlement. This empirical observation was coupled with the literature on ethnic conflict, which stressed the importance of ‘bottom-up’ peace building, giving civil society a potentially strong role in a post-Agreement Northern Ireland. However, this did not seem to have been realised and this working paper asks why this might be the case. It argues that civil society has to be conceived as a wider phenomenon, in that it performs a multitude of roles in relation to conflict resolution, governance, support structures for institutions and democracy in general. The paper then further argues that the 1998 Agreement fundamentally changed the context in which civil society operated and the apparent subsequent decline in civil society activity was merely a shift in focus.
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Non-violent opposition to peace processess : Northern Ireland's serial spoilers
2006-02-28, Farrington, Christopher
This article argues the crucial stage to the success or failure of a peace agreement is the implementation stage because it is at this stage that the agreement becomes subject to political forces which have not been involved in the negotiation process. It builds on Frensley's research (1998) that the post-negotiation ratification process is a determinant of the success of failure of an agreement by posting a more dynamic theory. It argues that the role of elites in shaping the preferences of their constituency needs to be factored into the analysis of the ratification process and that the position of parties in a democratic framework is important in shaping their strategies. It builds on Stedman's research on spoilers to argue that non-violent democratic spoilers pose a particular difficulty for peace aggreements and uses evidence from Northern Ireland to show how non-violent spoilers have been the main determinant of both the Belfast Agreement of 1998 and the Sunningdale experiment of 1973-4.