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Demilitarisation in Northern Ireland - The Role of 'Decommissioning' and 'Normalisation of Security' in the Peace Process (DINI)

A case study by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), in co-operation with the Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity (INCORE) *

Northern Ireland, as a case of conflict in transition, is gaining increasing attention as an internationally comparable case for the settlement and resolution of intra-state conflicts with ethnic-national components. The Belfast Agreement of April 1998, despite on-going difficulties appears to provide a far reaching political framework to solve the protracted conflict in Northern Ireland.

The DINI project aims to monitor the implementation of the demilitarisation** process of the Belfast Agreement, and analyze the governing potential of the peace accord with regard to the role of the domestic and international actors involved in transforming and resolving conflict in the area of demilitarisation.

The research will focus on the potential of a satisfactory process of demilitarisation in a post-war society to foster peace building and the prevention of further violent conflict. Furthermore, it will also look at the resources for economic and community development that will be freed by the creation of a demilitarised society.

In particular, the research will examine two relevant sections of the Belfast Agreement, and will analyze the implementation of these sections of the Agreement:

  • the 'decommissioning of all paramilitary arms' and the (re)integration of related personnel,
  • the 'normalisation of security arrangements and practices', such as the reduction of the numbers and role of the Armed Forces, the removal of security installations and the redevelopment of former military areas for civilian needs.

Overarching research questions will cover issues such as:

  • How can the qualitative and quantitative role, and the medium and long-term perspectives of demilitarisation be defined for a sustainable peace in Northern Ireland?
  • How do the provisions of the Agreement meet the need for the satisfactory implementation of demilitarisation? What lessons can be learned from the specific involvement of external actors in the context of security matters?
  • What are the direct and indirect effects of an adequate management of demilitarisation with respect to the processes of demilitarisation, and related issues, such as confidence building, the security sector and police reform, and economic and social development?
  • Are there lessons that can be drawn from comparative experiences elsewhere that can assist the process of analysis and advance the debate on issues of demilitarisation?

Over a period of two years, the project will monitor the demilitarisation aspects of the peace process and investigate the use of learning from the experiences of other post-conflict situations to both the international community concerned with conflict settlement, and to the players in Northern Ireland.

As part of the study BICC and INCORE hope to carry out interviews with a considerable number of stakeholders in the Northern Irish peace process i.e. relevant personnel from the British and Irish governments and from the Independent International Commission On Decommissioning, and with representatives from all of the Assembly parties, spokespersons for paramilitary organisations, community authorities, civic groups and local businesses.

The project will also provide a number of formal and informal opportunities for dialogue on issues of demilitarisation as part of its process. Interim findings in the form of policy papers will be disseminated. A final report is expected to form the basis for an academic publication to promote debate both in Northern Ireland and internationally about the challenges and successes of the demilitarisation process. The publication called 'Burying the Hatchet: the Decommissioning of Paramilitary Arms in Northern Ireland ' is now available online

The Bonn International center for conversion (BICC) is an independent non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and facilitating the processes whereby people, skills, technology, equipment, and financial and economic resources can be shifted away from the defense sector and applied to alternative civilian uses. Through research, technical assistance, retraining programs, publications, and conferences, BICC supports governmental and non-governmental initiatives as well as public and private sector organisations. As a result, BICC contributes to disarmament, demilitarisation, peace-building, post-conflict rehabilitation and human development. (http://www.bicc.de)

The Initiative on conifict Resolution and Ethnicity (INCORE) is a joint initiative of the United Nations University and the University of Ulster which addresses the management and resolution of ethno-political conflicts. It does this through a combination of research, training and other activities which inform and influence national and international organisations working in the field of conflict. (http://www.incore.ulst.ac.uk)


Disclaimer: © INCORE 2010 Last Updated on Thursday, 01-Apr-2010 15:20
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