Challenges to Peacebuilding

Managing Spoilers during Conflict Resolution

Edward Newman, Oliver Richmond
Release Date: September 1, 2006

Many ceasefires and peace agreements in civil conflict are initially unsuccessful. Some give way to renewed, and often escalating, violence. In other cases, peace processes have become lengthy and circular negotiations in which concessions are rare. Given the huge material and human costs of a failed peace process, the international community has a strong interest in helping these processes succeed.

Challenges to Peacebuilding approaches this problem by focusing on “spoilers”—groups and tactics that attempt to obstruct or undermine conflict settlement through a variety of means, including terrorism and violence. Drawing upon experience from Northern Ireland, the Basque region, Bosnia, Colombia, Israel-Palestine, Cyprus, the Caucasus, and Kashmir, it considers why spoilers and spoiling behavior emerge and how they can be addressed. This volume considers a broad range of actors as potential spoilers: not only rebel groups and insurgents, but also diasporas, governments, and other entities. It also demonstrates that ill-conceived or imposed peace processes can themselves sow the seeds of spoiling.