Reducing the Price of Peace: The Human Rights Responsibilities of Third-Party Facilitators

Peace agreements can bring about serious injustices. For example, they may establish oppressive regimes, provide for the transfer of populations, or allocate natural resources in an inequitable manner. This Article argues that third-party facilitators―states and international organizations that act as mediators, donors, or peacekeepers―should have a responsibility to prevent such injustices. While the primary duty to ensure the justice of peace agreements resides with the governments that negotiate and sign them, directing regulation efforts only at those governments may prove insufficient in protecting human rights under the politically constrained circumstances of peacemaking. It is therefore necessary to complement the primary duties of negotiators with the secondary duties of facilitators, who can afford to contemplate long-term justice and sustainability considerations and often have considerable influence on negotiator decisions.

This Article presents a novel theory of sovereign authority that provides a normative basis for holding facilitators responsible to help prevent peace-related injustices. In accordance with this theory, the governments of all the world’s countries should collectively bear the responsibility for ensuring the compatibility of peace agreements with human rights norms. Peace facilitators, however, should be singled out to discharge this collective responsibility in view of their potential contribution to peace injustices and their special ability to prevent them. This Article explores ways to translate facilitator responsibilities into concrete legal obligations. The potential contribution of such obligations to promoting just and sustainable peace is demonstrated through a critical analysis of the treatment of justice issues in past peace negotiations in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan.

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