Commemoration as Conflict: Space, Memory and Identity in by Sara McDowell, Máire Braniff (auth.)

By Sara McDowell, Máire Braniff (auth.)

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The necessity of ‘risking it all’ for the sake of compromise, building trust and placing aside fears are characteristic of the sacrifices that groups and individuals make when deliberating and initiating peace. There is a deep-rooted sense of fear occasioned by the threat of resumed violence if peace is not ultimately achieved. The magnitude of this threat, either real or imagined, often has the potential to undermine a volatile process. Peace agreements, while creating an environment conducive to reform, do not produce a framework for a peaceful coexistence nor do they automatically mend the divisions that led to the conflict in the first instance (Ball 1996) and these divisions can present formidable barriers to peace.

Steenkamp (2011) points to continued state weakness in the wake of an agreement as one of the principal instigators of economic, social and political violence in such societies. Paramilitaries, for example, she notes, who are traditionally associated with political violence at times find their way into other forms of violence (economic or social) due to the conditions created in the aftermath of a settlement. Peace processes are also concerned with transitional justice, the means ‘by which societies emerging from armed conflict or oppressive rule deal with the legacy of mass atrocity and past human rights abuse’ (Rangelov and Theros 2007: 1) and this too can have important implications for moving forward during the consolidation phase.

They are the detrimental effects of residual violence (Darby 2004), where a ceasefire does not spell the end of low intensity violence or violence instigated by opposition groups or disparate individuals; the inadequate disarmament, demilitarisation and rehabilitation of former combatants (Knight and Özerdem 2004); insufficient detail paid to security issues (Brickhill 2007); prisoner release (McEvoy and Shirlow 2008); faltering external support (Arson and Azpuru 2003); and economic instability – to name but a few.

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