Beyond the handshake moment: peace agreements and the ending of civil wars
Mats Berdal

After years, sometimes decades, of civil war, the temptation to treat the formal signing of peace agreements as the culminating endpoint in the struggle for ‘just and lasting’ peace has often, and for good reason, proved strong. The tendency to view the handshake moment also as a watershed moment has only been reinforced by the high-flown language and grand promises contained in the agreements themselves. When it comes to the actual afterlife of peace agreements, however, the contrast between promise and reality has often been stark. The truth is that peace agreements reached following civil wars over the past thirty years have rarely lived up to the promises enshrined in the agreements, let alone the hopes for societal transformation and ‘positive peace’ adumbrated at the time of their signature.

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