Northern Ireland: New research reveals Good Friday Agreement’s global impact

Professor Christine Bell

New analysis of the Good Friday Agreement has revealed its impact on peace deals worldwide.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Global Justice Academy found that key elements of the settlement, struck in April 1998, have become a common feature of other peace negotiations.

In particular, the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” has become a common feature of many peace negotiations.

Such an approach was used in negotiations in South Africa and Bosnia; after the Northern Ireland peace process in Sudan and Colombia; and is now framing the UK’s relationship with the Brexit process.

The Political Settlements Research Programme has produced a new online resource charting the influence of the historic agreement.

The research was conducted by analysing 33 individual settlements reached between 1990 and 2015 as part of the Northern Ireland peace process and comparing the texts with other peace agreements.

Researchers made use of the PA-X, a Peace Agreement Access Tool, an online database which records more than 140 peace processes which have produced in excess of 1,500 agreements.

Christine Bell, professor of constitutional law at Edinburgh University and co-director of the Global Justice Academy, said: “We were really surprised to see from our research the way that the Agreement had influenced other similar texts, and where the agreement had had unusual features.

“We often focus on how the Agreement played out in Northern Ireland, but in fact it has made an important contribution to the development of peace deals globally, which we can now use our data to trace over time.”

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