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International security and conflict – Spoiler Problems in Peace Processes

1) Stephen J. Stedman, Spoiler Problems in Peace Processes, International Security, Vol. 22, No. 2, 1997, pp. 5-53.

2) Roland Paris, Saving liberal peacebuilding, Review of International Studies, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2010, pp. 337-365.

3) Oliver P. Richmond, Failed statebuilding versus peace formation, Cooperation and Conflict, Vol. 48, No. 3, 2013, pp. 378-400.

In terms of substance, you are asked to write a one-page article review, which should highlight 1) the argument; 2) core findings, and 3) the conceptual contribution of the article to the literature.

International security and conflict

The argument

This review will highlight the article ‘Spoiler Problems in Peace Processes’, International Security by Stephen J. Stedman. The authors of the article try to put across that peacemaking is a risky business. During the peace negotiations, “spoilers” feel that when the peace deal emerges from any negations, their position in the society will be threatened. During the peace process, they might lose or have to give up their power, interests and worldview. Spoilers who are against a peace process will do anything possible to ensure that violence hampers all the peace attempts. Furthermore, when leaders sign a peace agreement, they put themselves in a tricky position and risk attack by adversaries who might take advantage of the situation (Stedman 1997).

Core findings

To prove that spoilers indeed are behind all the merciless killings before, during and after the war, the authors documented evidence of instances when such happened. The examples are Angola in 1992 and Rwanda in 1994 which show how spoilers were able to interrupt and succeed in creating chaos in the countries. In Angola, the country plunged back into the civil war while, in Rwanda, it led to the genocide.

Luckily, not all spoilers are successful in their mission, which is relief as the quest for peace in civil wars would have been unproductive. An example of an unsuccessful war attempt was in Mozambique, where Mozambique National Resistance and the Khmer Rouge of Africa had been stalling in meeting the commitments made for peace and threatened to boy cot the elections. In the end, they joined the parliamentary politics that they unfortunately lost but brought the end of the war. The same successful disarming of the spoilers was in Cambodia as the country overcame resistance from the real Khmer Rouge (Stedman 1997).

Conceptual contribution

It’s important to note that the successful and unsuccessful implementation of a peace process is not a miracle, but the working efforts of different international actors who are the custodians of peace. By making and implementing international strategies, peace is protected, and spoilers managed. However, it is not an easy process as the international actors will identify the spoilers, their number, their type and locus to stop the war effectively. To know the position of the spoilers, whether it is in or out can be helpful in creating peace. Inside spoilers are members of the party, and it is hard to know them due to their secrets. Outside ones are not party members will use various strategies to create chaos.  The number of spoilers is also important as it will help the actors to know what they are up against while the type will determine their commitment to seeing the chaos through. Leadership is also very vital at this stage to help the people differentiate right from wrong (Stedman 1997).

The article has made a conceptual contribution to literature. It gives one the essence of war and a peace process. It reflects on what the people do and why they do what they do. War is a very terrible thing to the nations and over the years has proved costly to the people. It is important to note that enmity never creates a civil war, but the insecurity of the spoilers who feel that having peace will disadvantage them than when there is war. In essence, the international actors have a duty of proving to everyone, especially the spoilers, on the benefit of peace. After all, wars are not started or stopped for anything but power and the fear of the unknown. If these two facts are taken care of, civil wars will be a thing of the past (Stedman 1997).

Bibliography

Stedman, S. J, 1997, Spoiler problems in peace processes, International security, 22(2), 5-53.

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