Conflict Prevention and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence
United Nations. World Bank. Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict. Background Papers
61 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2018
Date Written: May 1, 2017
Guarantees of non-recurrence of mass atrocity crimes are embedded within the United Nations resolutions and declarations on peacebuilding and sustainable development, particularly SDG 16 linking social integration, justice, and sustainable peace. The United Nations and the World Bank recognize the need to channel conflict towards socially regenerative pathways, and work to prevent conflict prior to its effect on the social, economic, and political systems that drive human development. Yet there is a scarcity of empirical investigations into the requisite societal incentives and capabilities for the fostering of local dynamics to reduce the risk of conflict, including the establishment and function of constitutions, human rights institutions, and transitional justice processes. As part of the joint World Bank-United Nations “Sustaining Peace: Making Development Work for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts” project, this study provides an initial exploration of the relationship between these factors and conflict reoccurrence.
In Part I of this report, we define the set of concepts used in the study and set out the hypotheses drawn from the existing literature on relationships of transitional justice mechanisms and institutional and civil society factors to conflict non-recurrence. The section identifies underlying assumptions, their logic, and the scope for their interrogation. It further summarizes existing empirical studies on the hypothesized relationship between post-conflict policy and conflict reoccurrence, and the existing gaps in understanding.
In Part II of the paper, with a technical appendix attached, we present a summary of our findings based on a statistical testing of the relationships described in part I. We find that new constitutions and trials of certain perpetrators of violent crimes a correlated with conflict non- recurrence. We do not find any statistically significant relationship between particular provisions of national constitutions, national human rights institutions and ombuds offices, and non- prosecutorial transitional justice mechanisms and conflict non-recurrence.
In the concluding section of the report (Part III) we set out the policy implications of our findings and outline areas for further investigation. Our findings suggest that international agencies could most directly target conflict non-recurrence by focusing, first, on the creation of new constitutions and the promotion of prosecutorial mechanisms to advance accountability for middle and low level perpetrators of abuses.. Despite our statistical findings, we would not recommend abandoning support for national human rights institutions and ombuds offices, specific constitutional provisions, truth commissions, and amnesties. These mechanisms do not increase (or decrease) the likelihood of reoccurrence of conflict. However, they may advance other goals, and provide transitional governments the flexibility in determining the set of institutional mechanisms they prioritize following conflict.
Moreover, data limitations necessitate further research and analysis. We propose additional qualitative and quantitative analysis of national human rights institutions and ombuds offices, and pre-conflict constitutional provisions, less commonly used forms of transitional justice (e.g., reparations, vetting, and accountability for corporate complicity), qualitative analysis of successful peace processes, and qualitative analysis of conflicts that reoccurred after ten years of peace.
Keywords: Transitional Justice, Violent Conflict, Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, Conflict Prevention, United Nations, World Bank, International Organizations, International Relations, Security
JEL Classification: K33, K42, H12, H56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation