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Negotiations with Peace Settlement Referendums: Comparing the Annan Plan and Good Friday Agreement Experiences

Amaral, Joana (2016) Negotiations with Peace Settlement Referendums: Comparing the Annan Plan and Good Friday Agreement Experiences. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:63870)

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This thesis investigates how peace negotiation processes influence peace settlement referendum outcomes. It addresses a re-occurring problem in peace processes of settlements being rejected by popular vote after strenuous political negotiations. For this purpose, it investigates and compares how the Annan Plan negotiations in Cyprus and the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) negotiations in Northern Ireland culminated with the acceptance of the latter and the rejection of the former. In doing so, it effectively bridges an existing gap in academic research and literature. Research and theory on peace negotiations and mediation has traditionally focused on uncovering how the process helped the political leaders sitting at the negotiations table reduce military tensions, improve relationships, and come to different types of agreements. It had not yet considered referendum results as a crucial outcome of contemporary peace negotiation processes. Existing research on referendums, on the other hand, traditionally studies voting behaviours through public opinion polls and surveys, or the analysis of referendum campaigns, seldom considering how they are shaped by negotiation processes.

The comparative case study analysis of the Annan Plan and GFA negotiations and referendums presented in this thesis provides for unique comparative features and a novel research design. It aims, not only at understanding how the Annan Plan and GFA negotiations led to opposing overall referendum outcomes, but also how they shaped differences in support between and across the four communities. While the Annan Plan was rejected due to the low 23 percent Greek Cypriot 'yes' vote, 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots actually voted for its ratification. The GFA was ratified with a similar difference in support between the local communities, the very high 96-97 per cent vote from the Nationalist community and the 51-53 per cent from the Unionist community. Bridging existing knowledge in peace negotiations and referendums literatures, this thesis compares how specific features of the negotiation process, namely, mediation strategies, political inclusion, civil society inclusion, and the agreement's design, shaped the political parties' support for the agreement in the referendum, the organization and strength of the campaigns, and voter information and uncertainty. Its findings are based on an empirically rich analysis of interviews conducted in Cyprus and Northern Ireland during the first half of 2014, which included key political stakeholders and civil society actors. The thesis demonstrates that the secretive and exclusionist nature of the Annan Plan negotiations, and the comparatively less secretive and more inclusive GFA negotiation process, shaped the referendum campaign periods leading to the opposing outcomes of the two cases. It further shows that support for the peace settlement was higher in the communities where the mediated negotiations included more political parties and where civil society was, directly or informally, included in the negotiations.

The findings support existing claims that inclusive and participatory negotiation processes can foster support for the peace process, adding that they can deeply shape peace settlement referendum experiences and outcomes. It argues that referendums are unsuitable for traditional secretive and exclusive peace negotiation practices that fail to educate and engage the public. The contribution is novel in arguing that, as a tool of democratic politics, peace settlement referendums need to be preceded by inclusive negotiations that involve a broad spectrum of political stakeholders and civil society and that, therefore, when referendums are used to seal a peace settlement, the entirety of its negotiation process needs to be adapted from the start.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Uncontrolled keywords: Negotiations, Peace, Settlement, Referendum, Annan Plan, Good Friday Agreement, Cyprus, Norther Ireland
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2017 13:33 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 22:51 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Amaral, Joana.

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