© 2017 by Varieties of Peace

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Authors: Anna Jarstad, Niklas Eklund, Patrik Johansson, Elisabeth Olivius, Abrak Saati, Dzenan Sahovic, Veronica Strandh, Johanna Söderström, Malin E. Wimelius and Malin Åkebo

Peace studies scholars are increasingly calling for more sophisticated and nuanced conceptual models for exploring peace. A new working paper by the Varieties of Peace team, entitled “Three Approaches to Peace: A Framework for Describing and Exploring Varieties of Peace”, makes an important contribution in this direction. To capture the complexity of peace in its empirical diversity, this framework approaches peace in three different ways: as a situation or condition in a particular locality; as a web of relationships; and as ideas or discourses about what peace is or should be. Thereby the paper points towards fruitful ways forward in advancing conceptual understandings and empirical analyses of peace that can facilitate systematic, comparative, qualitative analyses while at the same time accounting for the complex, multifaceted nature of peace.

Author: Anna Jarstad and Sandra Segall

The case of Mitrovica in Kosovo as a divided post-war city has been traditionally portrayed as a paradigmatic space where frictional peacebuilding and interethnic violence thrive. In this paper, Jarstad and Segall explore the city beyond the concept of negative peace –this is, the absence of war– and engage in an assessment of the peaceful relations between Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb residents. Through informal conversations, field notes and 15 in-depth interviews, the authors find that despite the overarching conflictual relations there are also multiple strands of everyday peace at the societal level. Even in spaces in the city where a history of violence is entrenched, the situation can seldom be reduced to purely conflictual: casual communication, cooperation on practical matters and co-existence in shared spaces are daily peace acts that prove friendly relations amidst violence and tension.

Author: Johanna Söderström

In this article, Söderström reflects on how veterans’ homecoming experiences play a role in their link with the state and shows how and under what circumstances veteran identities can gradually transform into political identities. By drawing on the life stories of former combatants from three different wars ‒independence fighters from Namibia (SWAPO), guerrillas from Colombia (M-19) and Vietnam veterans in the United States‒ the article explores how these veterans interpret the process of coming home and how they make claims for recognition in relation to three pillars: the society, the state and their peers. The findings reveal that recognition plays a central role in the way these former combatants talk about their lives as political subjects after demobilization, in spite of large differences in the ways each society received each group after the war.

Author: Elisabeth Olivius and Jenny Hedström

In contexts of war and militarization, gender role dynamics are usually emphasized and feminist agendas are hindered. Women’s roles are oftentimes constructed as the symbolic and material boundaries of ethnic or national identity, leading to the perception of feminist ideas as threatening to the objectives of militarized nationalism. In this article, Olivius and Hedström explore the relationship between feminist mobilization in the context of militarized nationalism, using as a case study the story of the exiled Burmese women’s movement in the borderlands of Myanmar. Through primary interviews and the analysis of movement literature, this study finds that episodes of exiled oppositional politics in the context of armed nationalist struggle can spark feminist organization and activism, and eventually contribute to advancing women’s rights and equality.

Author: Malin Åkebo

How can ceasefires be studied and better understood, and what are their implications for conflict transformation? Through a case study of the ceasefire between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao, Åkebo explores patterns of interactions and changes in relationships between the actors involved. Building on written sources and interviews, the study engages with relational and interactional aspects related to the ceasefire structure and explores how this is shaped by features of the armed conflict, including its territorial dimension and the presence of multiple sources of violence. It shows that continuous engagement in ceasefire in Mindanao has generated high levels of interparty interactions and cooperation and territorial coexistence, what can be termed as a “coexistence ceasefire”.

Author: Johanna Söderström


Does crime exposure impair levels of political knowledge? The literature on crime has focused on its causes as well as its scope, while ignoring how it might influence the practice of political citizenship. Informed citizens are more able to practice their political citizenship. Exploring the impact of experiencing an insecure environment in itself, this article contributes to a deeper understanding of how the citizen responds to crime (burglary and physical attacks). Working memory has limitations and previous research has shown how resource scarcity limits cognitive capacities. This article suggests that crime might produce a situation of security scarcity, i.e. insecurity, which limits cognitive capacity in a similar fashion. This hypothesis is tested in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, using survey data from the Afrobarometer (Round 4). The findings demonstrate how experiencing a security scarcity decreases political knowledge among male citizens, but not among female citizens.

Author: Elisabeth Olivius

Ongoing episodes of intensified armed violence and ethnic discrimination in Myanmar have resulted in long-term and large-scale forced displacement. Amid what can be considered a fully fledged humanitarian crisis, the borderlands of Myanmar’s neighbouring countries have turned out to act as a safe haven for political mobilization and oppositional resistance. Such is the case of the Thailand-Myanmar border, where a vibrant and multi-ethnic women’s movement has developed and strengthened since the 1990s. Olivius contributes in this paper to the literature on “acts of citizenship” in situations of forced migration through the exploration of how these Burmese women activists in Thailand engage in insurgent citizenship practices. Through more than fifty interviews with humanitarian workers, NGO representatives and Burmese women activists, this study sheds light upon the diverse nature of acts of citizenship and upon the transformative impact these have beyond the bearing of individual political agency.

Authors: Malin E. Wimelius, Niklas Eklund and Jörgen Elfving

This article is only available in Swedish. Since 2014 an armed conflict is ongoing in the Eastern part of Ukraine, albeit today of low intensity. Over time there have been numerous attempts to reach a truce and a return to status quo ante, among them the Minsk agreements and in the autumn of 2017 the Russian proposal to introduce a peacekeeping force in the conflict area. This proposal raises the questions of the Russian view on peacekeeping operations and its experiences of and capability to carry out such operations, questions which are addressed in this article. Undoubtedly, Russia has a multifaceted capability in this aspect and also a rich experience of peacekeeping, but mainly in the post-Soviet landscape where a common history, culture etc. give Russian peacekeepers certain advantages. On the other hand, the theoretical framework seems less well developed even if peacebuilding, mirotvortjestvo, has emerged as a subject in the Russian debate. When it comes to a peacekeeping operation in Ukraine, like an end to the conflict, it is something that, for differing reasons, seems less likely today.

Author: Patrik Johansson

The concept of resilience is currently making its way into the field of peace and conflict studies, but it is a concept with different meanings and implications. The argument advanced in this paper is that in order to make the most of resilience thinking, the field should not conceive of resilience merely as the ability to bounce back to an original state after a disturbance, a conceptualization usually referred to as “engineering resilience.” Instead, it should engage with “ecological resilience,” which refers to the amount of disturbance that a system can absorb before being pushed across a threshold from one stable state to another. I also relate these different types of resilience to another distinction between specified resilience to anticipated disturbances and general resilience to unknown ones. Finally, I consider a few other implications of resilience thinking for research on peace and conflict.

Authors: Johanna Söderström, Malin Åkebo and Anna Jarstad

In this paper we suggest that taking a relational view of peace serious is a fruitful avenue for expanding current theoretical frameworks surrounding peace as a concept. Paving the way for such an approach, this paper conducts a review of the literature which takes on peace as a relational concept. We then return to how a relationship is conceptualized, before turning to how such components would be further defined in order to specify relational peace. Based on this framework, we argue that a peaceful relation entails non-domination, deliberation and cooperation between the actors in the dyad, the actors involved recognize and trust each other and believe that the relationship is one between legitimate actors and ultimately an expression of friendship. It clarifies the methodological implications of studying peace in this manner. It also demonstrates some of the advantages of this approach, as it shows how peace and war can co-exist in webs of multiple interactions, and the importance of studying relations, and how actors understand these relationships, as a way of studying varieties of peace.

The working paper, written by Varieties of Peace intern Viktor Johansson, is concerned with characterizing and comparing civil war peace processes that were initiated during the 1990s. The paper also offers a long-term analysis of the peace that has (or has not) ensued after these civil wars.

Authors: Anna Jarstad and Desirée Nilsson

Power sharing is increasingly recognized as an important tool for creating sustainable peace in war-torn societies. However, we have limited knowledge concerning why political, territorial, and military power-sharing pacts are reached and implemented. This article addresses this gap by providing a global study examining the signing and implementation of powersharing pacts in intrastate armed conflicts. We focus on how the type of political regime can influence these choices and theorize about the strategic incentives for warring parties in different types of regimes to sign and implement different pacts. Our large-N analysis is based on data on power-sharing provisions in eighty-three peace accords in forty intrastate armed conflicts between 1989 and 2004. In line with our theoretical expectations, we find that political and military pacts are more likely to be signed in autocracies, whereas territorial pacts are more common in democracies. Somewhat surprisingly, we find no difference in the implementation patterns across regimes.

One year into the program, our first annual report outlines all the activities conducted in 2017, including research, organisational matters, joint activities, and dissemination of results. 

Author: Johanna Söderström

Armed groups often transform into political parties, which involves a profound transformation of the organizational culture. How these parties condition the continued political mobilization of their members is unclear. Using life history interviews with former combatants of the armed group M19 in Colombia, this article demonstrates what aspects of the party mobilize and stymie their political mobilization. Through exploring three typical political life paths – the Resilient, the Remobilized and the Removed – this article demonstrates the long-term challenges of post-war politics, the role of the party, as well as the personal journey from (war and) peace to democracy.

Author: Abrak Saati


Ever since the Swedish Police Authority established a unit for Peace Support Operations in 2000, approximately 70–110 Swedish police officers have participated in peacebuilding missions around the globe on an annual basis. This signifies that a substantial number of Swedish police officers have gained practical experience of assisting post-conflict states to rebuild their societies, reform their security sectors and establish a police force that acts in accordance with the principles of democratic policing. However, to date, there is no research that has set out to investigate these police officers’ experiences; not only of building peace abroad within the framework of democratic policing, but also of coming back home to reengage in Swedish police work. In this paper we begin to address this research gap. We do so through a number of qualitative interviews with Swedish police officers who have recent experiences of participating in peacebuilding missions in Liberia, Kosovo and Haiti. The findings show that despite certain obstacles, the police officers find ways to conduct police work in a manner that they believe supports the advancement of a democratic police force, and that their overall sentiment of building peace abroad is positive. However, their experiences of returning home to reengage in Swedish police work are less satisfactory. Officers express frustration that new insights and new knowledge gained abroad do not seem to be valued by the Swedish Police Authority. This is a finding that aligns with results from previous studies on Canadian and Australian police officers.

Author: Anna Jarstad

The UN ambition to promote democratization via peacebuilding operations in post-civil war cases has largely failed. Suboptimal choices for democratization, such as power-sharing, are chosen as a result of the bargaining power of the former warring parties. Many issues, such as who belongs to the citizenry, are not settled and political parties not defined by the conflict lines have little chance of gaining power. While past experience shows that there is not one single pathway of democratization after civil war, it is suggested that these issues are important for democracy after civil war. For democracy to take root, it is also necessary to engage more seriously with the local networks and individuals who work to change behaviour and attitudes to become more democratic.

In: Building Sustainable Peace: Timing and Sequencing of Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding / [ed] Arnim Langer and Graham K. Brown, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 87-109.

Author: Malin Åkebo

This book analyses and compares ceasefire agreements as part of peace processes in intrastate armed conflicts.

Research repeatedly underscores the importance of ceasefire agreements in peace processes but suggests that they can influence such processes in fundamentally different ways. However, despite contradictory expectations, remarkably few studies have so far been devoted to systematic and in-depth analysis of ceasefire agreements in contemporary intrastate armed conflicts. This book contributes to filling this gap by using a process-oriented conflict dynamics approach to analyse and explain how ceasefire agreements are being influenced by and in turn influences the broader dynamics of peace processes. Empirically, the book focuses on the armed conflicts in Aceh (Indonesia) and Sri Lanka. Based on document studies and 57 interviews with key actors, it presents comparative insights and in-depth knowledge about ceasefire agreements in different contextual settings. The book problematizes the common assumption in the literature that ceasefire agreements create momentum in peace processes and pave the way to peace, and it provides a more nuanced analysis and understanding based on two empirical cases analysed within a comparative framework. In contrast to conventional wisdom, it demonstrates how ceasefires on the contrary also can have negative implications on peace processes.

Author: Malin Åkebo


The chapter focuses on disaster governance in the context of the earthquake and tsunami that severely hit the war-torn areas of Aceh and Sri Lanka in December 2004. It explores how the tsunami response and recovery actions were influenced by the ongoing armed conflicts and how the process of tsunami recovery, in its own turn, shaped the politics of the violent conflicts. The chapter takes a closer look at the urban dimension of tsunami recovery and at urban–rural intersections. While the tsunami on the one hand opened up a window of opportunity for reaching a peaceful solution to the violent conflicts, at the same time, as illustrated in the chapter, the natural disaster also contributed to consolidate dividing lines between geographical localities, urban and rural societies and identity groups. The chapter points to the importance of recognising competing governance systems and how prior tensions, cleavages and political power struggles might be reproduced and accentuated in the light of environmental disasters. In conclusion, the chapter underlines the essential importance of taking context into account and of recognising the political processes at play so as to understand the response and recovery from environmental disasters in different conflict settings and societies.

In: Disaster Governance in Urbanising Asia / [ed] Michelle Ann Miller, Mike Douglass, Singapore: Springer, 2016, p. 85-107.

Author: Elisabeth Olivius

Refugee camps are frequently perceived as spaces of emergency and exception. However, they are also spaces where millions of people live their everyday lives, sometimes for extended periods of time. As such, refugee camps are political spaces where struggles over the right to influence life in the camps and shape how they are governed are continuously ongoing. In this context, what are the opportunities for political participation for refugees living in camps? How and to what extent are refugees able to carve out political space where they can engage with and affect their lives and their situations? This paper addresses these questions through an analysis of refugee camps in Thailand. Drawing on Foucauldian analytics, the analysis demonstrates how key strategies employed to govern refugees, namely spatial confinement and development interventions are also creatively subverted by refugees and appropriated as bases for resistance and political mobilization. The article provides new insights into the relationship between power and resistance, demonstrating how specific technologies of governance create opportunities for subversion, reinterpretation, and appropriation.

Authors: Anna Jarstad, Malin Åkebo, Patrik Johansson, Philippa Barnes, Niklas Eklund,  Malin Eklund Wimelius, Elisabeth Olivius, Abrak Saati, Dzenan Sahovic,  Veronica Strandh, Johanna Söderström

The Varieties of Peace research program aims to analyze long-term effects of peace processes in conflicts that ended in the 1990s. The central research questions are: What characterizes peace after the peace processes initiated in the 1990s and how does it vary? How can this variation be described and explained? Peace processes have been studied using short time perspectives, usually in ”lessonslearned” evaluations five years after conflict termination, and usually with theories of conflict as a starting point. The Varieties of Peace research program is an ambitious initiative, which starts from a theoretical understanding of peace, its quality and character, and views peace and peace processes as dynamic and transformative. It will investigate and evaluate different types of peace processes from a comparative perspective and 25–30 years after they started, with the ambition of producing generalizable knowledge about peace, what it is and how it can be achieved. As a starting point, the program studies explanatory factors in five areas: 1) the actions, capacity and resilience of civil society, 2) the interests and strategies of the elites, 3) the aims and character of the agreements, 4) the societies’ institutions and resilience, and 5) international involvement. These issues will be studies in at least ten projects, with the ambition to capture and explain variation, internal dynamics and ultimately the results and effects of peace processes, studied over a longer period of time. The Varieties of Peace program is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond: the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences, 2017-2024.

Authors: Jarstad, Anna; Olivius, Elisabeth; Åkebo, Malin; Höglund, Kristine; Söderberg Kovacs, Mimmi; Söderström, Johanna; Saati, Abrak; Kostić, Roland; Sahovic, Dzenan

Abstract: In the 1990s, a number of protracted armed conflicts were finally ended. This period can be described as a paradigmatic shift with regards to how armed conflicts are brought to an end. When the logic of the Cold War no longer hindered the United Nations (UN) to intervene, the number of UN peace operations rose dramatically and became more comprehensive. In addition, conflicts increasingly ended through negotiated settlements rather than military victory. The peace processes of the 1990s gave rise to great optimism that negotiations and peacebuilding efforts, often with considerable international involvement, would bring sustainable peace to war-affected countries. The outcomes of these peace processes, however, appears to be far from unanimously positive. Today, 20 years after the war endings of the 1990s, it is therefore imperative to critically analyze and evaluate these peace processes and their long-term results. What is the situation like today in countries where conflicts ended in the 1990s? What has become of the peace? In this paper, the long-term outcomes of peace processes that took place in the 1990s are evaluated through brief analyses of a number of cases,demonstrating that the nature and quality of peace today show great diversity. The paper also includes a conceptualization of the ”peace triangle” aimed at distinguishing between different forms of peace, as well as a study of the relationship between peacebuilding and democracy in UN peace operations in the 1990s, concluding that outcomes with regards to democratic development in the intervened countries are generally poor.

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