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A Human Rights Approach to Conflict Resolution

  • Claudia Fuentes-Julio and Raslan Ibrahim

Abstract

Human rights and conflict resolution have been traditionally perceived as two separate fields, with contradictory principles and conflicting approaches toward achieving peace. This essay aims to understand these two fields in a more integrative way, showing how a human rights perspective can enrich the theory and practice of conflict resolution. It clarifies the main characteristics of a human rights approach to conflict resolution and identifies a set of human rights standards guiding its implementation: a normative legal framework; structural conditions for peace; participation and inclusion; and accountability and redress. The essay also briefly applies a human rights approach to the Colombian peace process and to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The conclusion addresses one of the main criticisms of this approach and its principal challenges.

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Editor's note: The publication of this essay was made possible by the initiative and support of Joy Gordon, Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J. Professor in Social Ethics at Loyola University-Chicago.

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NOTES

1 Sriram, Chandra Lekha, Martin-Ortega, Olga, and Herman, Johanna, War, Conflict and Human Rights: Theory and Practice (London: Routledge, 2018).

2 Part of this section is based on Fuentes-Julio's previous discussion of the subject in the introduction of Fuentes-Julio, Claudia and Drumond, Paula, eds., Human Rights and Conflict Resolution: Bridging the Theoretical and Practical Divide (New York: Routledge, 2018).

3 See, for example, Lutz, Ellen L., Babbitt, Eileen F., and Hannum, Hurst, “Human Rights and Conflict Resolution from the Practitioners’ Perspectives,” Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 27, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 2003), pp. 173–93; Babbitt, Eileen F., “Conflict Resolution and Human Rights: The State of the Art,” in Bercovitch, Jacob, Kremenyuk, Victor, and Zartman, I. William, eds., The SAGE Handbook of Conflict Resolution (San Francisco: SAGE, 2009), pp. 613–29; and Parlevliet, Michelle, “Human Rights and Conflict Transformation: Towards a More Integrated Approach,” in Austin, Beatrix, Fischer, Martina, and Giessmann, Hans J., eds., Advancing Conflict Transformation: The Berghof Handbook II (Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich, 2011), pp. 237–71.

4 Davis, Laura, EU Foreign Policy, Transitional Justice and Mediation: Principle, Policy and Practice (New York: Routledge, 2014), p. 39; and Babbitt, “Conflict Resolution and Human Rights.”

5 Babbitt, “Conflict Resolution and Human Rights,” p. 617; and Parlevliet, Michelle, Embracing Concurrent Realities: Revisiting the Relationship between Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 2015), chs. 2 and 3; and Bell, Christine, “Human Rights, Peace Agreements and Conflict Resolution: Negotiating Justice in Northern Ireland,” in Mertus, Julie and Helsing, Jeffrey W., eds., Human Rights & Conflict: Exploring the Links between Rights, Law, and Peacebuilding (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2006), pp. 345–74.

6 Babbitt, “Conflict Resolution and Human Rights,” p. 617.

7 Michele Parlevliet, “The Transformative Potential of Human Rights in Conflict Resolution,” in Fuentes-Julio and Drumond, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, p. 26.

8 Babbitt, “Conflict Resolution and Human Rights,” p. 617.

9 Ibid., pp. 616–18; and Parlevliet, Embracing Concurrent Realities, pp. 106–10.

10 Fukuda-Parr, Sakiko, “Human Rights and Politics in Development,” in Goodhart, Michael, ed., Human Rights: Politics and Practice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

11 Broberg, Morten and Sano, Hans-Otto, “Strengths and Weaknesses in a Human Rights–Based Approach to International Development: An Analysis of a Rights-Based Approach to Development Assistance based on Practical Experiences,” International Journal of Human Rights 22, no. 5 (2018), pp. 664–80.

12 Ruggie, John Gerard, Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013).

13 See Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation (New York: United Nations, 2006), p. 15.

14 Babbitt, “Conflict Resolution and Human Rights.”

15 Manikkalingam, Ram, “Promoting Peace and Protecting Rights: How Are Human Rights Good and Bad for Resolving Conflict?,” Essex Human Rights Review 5, no. 1 (July 2008), p. 5.

16 David Petrasek, “Engaging Armed Groups in Conflict Resolution from a Human Rights Perspective,” in Fuentes-Julio and Drumond, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution.

17 Hvidsten, Andreas H. and Skarstad, Kjersti, “The Challenge of Human Rights for Peace Research,” International Theory 10, no. 1 (March 2018), pp. 98121.

18 Evelyn Aero, George Anderson, Clarissa Augustinus, Isaac Bekalo, Mike Dzakuma, Jamila El Abdellaoui, Kirstie Farmer, et al., Land and Conflict: Lessons from the Field on Conflict Sensitive Land Governance and Peacebuilding, Report 2/2018 (Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme, 2018), p. 12.

19 Ibid.

20 Gizelis, Theodora-Ismene, “A Country of Their Own: Women and Peacebuilding,” Conflict Management and Peace Science 28, no. 5 (November 2011), pp. 522–42; and Nilsson, Desirée, “Anchoring the Peace: Civil Society Actors in Peace Accords and Durable Peace,” International Interactions 38, no. 2 (April 2012), pp. 243–66.

21 “Women's Participation in Peace Processes,” Council on Foreign Relations, January 30, 2019, www.cfr.org/interactive/womens-participation-in-peace-processes.

22 Paffenholz, Thania, ed., Civil Society & Peacebuilding: A Critical Assessment (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2009).

23 Ellen L. Lutz, “Understanding Human Rights Violations in Armed Conflict,” in Mertus and Helsing, eds., Human Rights & Conflict, p. 28.

24 United Nations Security Council, “The Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies,” S/2004/616, August 23, 2004, www.un.org/ruleoflaw/files/2004%20report.pdf.

25 Lutz, “Understanding Human Rights Violations in Armed Conflict,” p. 33.

26 Hayner, Priscilla, The Peacemaker Paradox: Pursuing Justice in the Shadow of Conflict (New York: Routledge, 2018).

27 Borja Paladini Adell and Carolina Naranjo, “Monitoring the Progress of Human Rights in the Colombia Peace Process,” Peace Policy, October 11, 2017, peacepolicy.nd.edu/2017/10/11/monitoring-the-progress-of-human-rights-in-the-colombia-peace-process/.

28 United Nations Security Council, “Letter Dated 29 March 2017 from the Secretary-General Addressed to the President of the Security Council,” S/2017/272, April 21, 2017, colombia.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/s-2017-272_e.pdf.

29 Sandra Borda and Martha Gutiérrez, “Between Peace and Justice: The Role of Human Rights Norms in Colombia's Peace Process,” in Fuentes-Julio and Drumond, eds., Human Rights and Conflict Resolution.

30 Ibid. pp. 223–4.

31 Amnesty International, Colombia: Restoring the Land, Securing the Peace; Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Territorial Rights (London: Amnesty International, 2015).

32 González, Nina Chaparro and Osorio, Margarita Martínez, Negociando desde los márgenes: La participación política de las mujeres en los procesos de paz en Colombia (1982–2016) (Bogotá, Colombia: Dejusticia, 2016); and Céspedes-Báez, Lina M. and Ruiz, Felipe Jaramillo, “‘Peace without Women Does Not Go!’ Women's Struggle for Inclusion in Colombia's Peace Process with the FARC,” Colombia internacional 94 (2017), pp. 83109.

33 Sandra Borda and Martha Gutiérrez, “Between Peace and Justice: The Role of Human Rights Norms in Colombia's Peace Process,” in Fuentes-Julio and Drumond, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, p. 225.

34 Mark Kersten, “Meeting International Standards: Amnesty in the Colombian Peace Deals,” Justice in Conflict, October 14, 2016, justiceinconflict.org/2016/10/14/meeting-international-standards-amnesty-in-the-colombian-peace-deal/.

35 For a short review of the Oslo peace process, see Shlaim, Avi, “The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Process,” in Fawcett, Louise, ed., International Relations of the Middle East, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

36 Raslan Ibrahim and Edy Kaufman, “Human Rights in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreements,” in Fuentes-Julio and Drumond, eds., Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, p. 203; and Bell, Christine, Peace Agreements and Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 153.

37 See, for example, Article VIII, Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization, September 13, 1993; and Articles XIII and XIV, Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization, September 28, 1995, annex I.

38 Article XI of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, for example, states: “Recognizing the mutual benefit of cooperation in promoting the development of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel, upon the entry into force of this Declaration of Principles, an Israeli-Palestinian Economic Cooperation Committee will be established in order to develop and implement in a cooperative manner the programs identified in the protocols attached as Annex III and Annex IV.” See also Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, pp. 200–203.

39 Article XI, Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. See also Article II, Wye River Memorandum, Israel–Palestine Liberation Organization, October 23, 1998.

40 Bell, Peace Agreements and Human Rights, p. 205.

41 Ibrahim and Kaufman, “Human Rights and Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreements,” pp. 204–6.

42 Amnesty International, Palestinian Authority: Prolonged Political Detention, Torture, and Unfair Trials (London: Amnesty International, 1996), p. 26.

43 Donnelly, Jack, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2013), p. 105.

Editor's note: The publication of this essay was made possible by the initiative and support of Joy Gordon, Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J. Professor in Social Ethics at Loyola University-Chicago.

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