Law and society blog

SOGOLAS Lecturer Tiina Pajuste Part of Language of Peace Research Tool Launch at the United Nations

16.12.2016 12:58:39

Dr Tiina Pajuste, a lecturer in international and European Law at SOGOLAS, along with the rest of the research team for the Legal Tools for Peace-Making Project based at University of Cambridge – Professor Marc Weller, Dr Dr Mark Retter, Jake Rylatt, and Andrea Varga – launched the Language of Peace research tool at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 6 December 2016. The event was hosted by the Swiss Permanent Mission to the United Nations. It included a panel discussion on the importance of language in peace agreements with Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and former UN Special Representative to the Secretary-General Álvaro de Soto, moderated by the Director of Policy and Mediation Division at the Department of Political Affairs, Teresa Whitfield.

The Language of Peace research tool – developed by Dr Tiina Pajuste and the rest of the research team over the past three years and with the collaboration of the UN Mediation Support Unit and the web developers at PASTPRESENTFUTURE – aims to eliminate the time-consuming and redundant background research which can burden settlement processes. Before this database, whenever mediators or negotiating parties wanted to identify past practice on a particular issue, they had no choice but to spend hours sifting through hundreds of agreements which may or may not have addressed the issue.IMG_1494

Building on the existing UN Peacemaker database, and designed with the needs of mediators, negotiating parties and researchers in mind, Language of Peace is an innovative search engine providing instant access to a rich collection of peace agreements concluded since World War II. Each provision of these agreements has been categorised according to 226 issues commonly faced in peace negotiations, grouped under 26 main headings. These include issues such as ceasefire monitoring, reconstruction and development, and political detainees. Users can browse issue areas, and further refine searches by a number of different criteria, such as type of conflict, country/territory, and date. Language of Peace aims to streamline the negotiation process, and thereby contribute to the success of peace-making around the world. It also addresses the difficulties presently faced by non-state parties to peace negotiations. Specifically, it alleviates the imbalance of power inherent in negotiations between non-state actors and central governments, arising from the fact that the former lacks the extensive administrative apparatus at the disposal of the latter. The search tool provides non-state actors with ready access to past practice, enabling them to articulate their grievances in a negotiable form.

Language of Peace is part of the broader Legal Tools for Peace-Making project that SOGOLAS’s Tiina Pajuste is continuing work on. The project team is also working on 26 case studies corresponding to the main issue areas identified in Language of Peace. The case studies analyse the approaches taken in previous peace processes, identifiable within source material generated by Language of Peace, against the backdrop of international law. By doing so, they aim to identify the range of options available to parties on a particular issue by reference to international legal obligations, while also considering the extent to which peace agreement practice complies with or diverges from international law. By the conclusion of the Legal Tools for Peace-Making project, the case studies will become available online, and aim to be a valuable resource for mediators and a starting point for further academic research on the influence of international law and customary practice of peace-making.

Language of Peace databasehttp://www.languageofpeace.org/

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