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Nouwen: Peacemaking - A Critical Reconstruction of Fieldmaking Attempts (1989-2021)

Jun 22, 2021 | 11:00 AM c.t.

Sarah Nouwen

European University Institute

22 June 2021, 11:15 a.m. (register here for reminder/calendar entry or join directly here)

‘Peacemaking’, unlike for instance ‘dispute settlement’ or ‘peacekeeping’, is generally not considered a subfield of international law. It was not in 1989 and, judging by the table of contents of international law textbooks, it is not today. However, ever since UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali used the term in his 1992 Agenda for Peace, ‘peacemaking’ has risen in prominence as a concept of global governance. And, as more often, governance has been followed by a search for law. Peacemaking thus offers a terrain where we can see ‘field making’ at work, and all the competition that goes with this process of making: What will it be about? Who will define it? What/who gets co-opted and what/who remains outside it? On whose expertise will it depend?

Rather than doctrinally summing up a ‘law of peacemaking’, this talk presents a critical historical reconstruction to show how different groups of lawyers and to some extent non-lawyers have tried to capture this field by sowing it with the norms and practices they consider most relevant and in which they have expertise - human rights law, humanitarian law and international criminal law being key areas. The talk identifies three different projects to that effect, most of which with their own internal rivalries about the essence of the field: (1) the push for a jus post bellum (developing a law that makes ‘peace’ more ‘stable’ or ‘just’ or, more modestly, clustering existing law that relates to peacemaking especially in the context of foreign intervention); (2) the development of a lex pacificatoria (a term used for the very different projects of (a) advancing the normative status of peace agreements; (b) identifying existing law on issues negotiated during peace negotiations in non-international armed conflicts or indeed modifying it to make that law more conducive to peacemaking; (c) developing ready-made provisions for peace agreements) and finally (3) the push for a higher normative status of the practice of negotiating and mediating peace.

Speaker info:

Sarah Nouwen has been a Professor of Public International Law at the EUI since September 2020. She is on leave from  the  University of Cambridge, where she is a Reader in Public International Law and a Fellow of  Pembroke College and was for many years a Co-Deputy Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law. She is also an Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of International Law.


The lecture will take place in the context of the course "Human Rights: Law,
Politics, History" and will be followed by a Q&A and discussion.

While not open to the general public, a limited number of additional participants
can be accommodated. If you are interested in joining the Webex session, please write
to Ms. Kerstin Oelstrom (kerstin.oelstrom@fu-berlin.de).