Abstract

Peace agreements often harm disempowered groups such as women, ethnic minorities and the poor, who bear the main burden of compromise. This article argues that international law can and should promote a more equitable allocation of the burden of peace by applying the procedural justice requirements of participation, transparency and reason giving to peace negotiations. Drawing on insights from negotiation literature, public choice analysis, deliberative democracy theory and social psychology, the article explains that such procedural regulation can enhance the democratic quality of peace agreements and, at the same time, also improve peace prospects. It also notes, however, that procedural justice may entail serious costs, including delays and the loss of manoeuvring space for negotiators. The article argues that a careful design of procedural justice methods and mechanisms can significantly reduce these costs, and it makes some concrete proposals to that effect. Finally, the article examines existing international instruments that may introduce procedural justice principles into peace negotiations and assesses their potential and limitations. All in all, this article shows that despite, and also because of, its exceptional nature, peace making should not be left to the exclusive discretion of unaccountable negotiators.

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