Peace Agreements Between Rupture and Continuity: Mediating Time in International Law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Peace agreements reveal the way in which international law deals with—or rather constructs narratives around—continuity and discontinuity. Analyzing peace processes helps us capture how international law, not only in the context of the resolution of internal armed conflicts but more generally, understands time, what role it plays in the promotion of legal, political and social (dis)continuities, and how it attempts to mediate between backward- and forward-looking perspectives. Peace agreements are forward-looking in that they typically envisage a common future and attempt to establish—or reestablish—a shared space. At the same time, peace agreements often seek to deal with and regulate the past, primarily through their transitional justice provisions. Peace agreements thus illustrate that time may not always be divided into neat segments: the past, the present and the future are interrelated in various ways. While historic peace treaties exemplified continuity by forcing the vanquished to carry responsibility, the reality of internal armed conflicts has necessitated the introduction of elements of discontinuity to facilitate peace. Still, international law has developed to demand peace agreements to maintain continuity for certain aspects of the past. Although international law’s engagement with time may have become more subtle and sophisticated, its excessively linear conception of time unduly privileges particular events and promotes continuity only for certain pasts, possibly preventing peace negotiators and mediators from finding creative (and sometimes perhaps more appropriate) ways in which to deal with the past, the present and the future in a society emerging from an internal armed conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Law and Time
Subtitle of host publicationNarratives and Techniques
EditorsKlara Polackova Van der Ploeg, Luca Pasquet, León Castellanos-Jankiewicz
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783031094651
ISBN (Print)9783031094644
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameIus Gentium
ISSN (Electronic)2214-9902


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