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Independent Commission in Post-Conflict Societies

Independent Commission in Post-Conflict Societies

Principal Investigator: Dr Dawn Walsh
Funder: Irish Research Council (laureate award)

How do independent commissions operate in post-conflict societies? Commissions, which possess and exercise some specialised public authority but are neither directly elected nor directly managed by elected officials, are crucial elements of peace agreements as they are mandated to carry out vital tasks including monitoring ceasefires or overseeing elections. The successful completion of such tasks is vital to the sustainability of peace accords, yet these important institutions have received very little scholarly attention. To remedy this important deficit in both our theoretical and empirical understanding of post-conflict institutional design, this project examines the role of independent commissions in the operation of peace agreements.

Linking four theoretical literatures on power-sharing and power-dividing, gender in peace processes, the role of international actors in post-conflict societies, and judicial review this project has four objectives:

1) Develop power-sharing theory to explain the role of independent commissions in implementing peace agreements. This will move power-sharing theory beyond traditional legislative-executive politics and better reflect the reality of power-sharing in post-conflict societies.

2) To establish how independent commissions can incorporate international actors to maximise the beneficial role of external actors in peace-building.

3) To examine how independent commissions provide for the representation and participation of women in power-sharing institutions. This project will explore whether these under-studied arenas of power-sharing can combine considerations of ethnic and gender identity overcoming these weaknesses of power-sharing in executive and legislative arenas.

4) To combine constitutional law and institutional design approaches building an inter-disciplinary understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of courts, and judicial or arbitration commissions in peace processes.