Distinguished Lecture considers price of peace

A group of military soldiers in uniform in Aceh region, Indonesia.
Professor Renee Jeffery will discuss the challenges to peace agreements in conflict hot spots like Aceh.

In a modern world peppered with conflict zones and civil wars, the process of negotiating peace remains an intensely complicated challenge.

From deepest Africa to Latin America and from eastern Europe to southeast Asia the pursuit of peace regularly comes at an unappetising cost where principles of justice are blurred and often sacrificed for hard-won amnesties.

Professor Renee Jeffery has built her academic career around the examination of amnesties in peace agreements and the fundamental questions faced by peacemakers today.

She will outline and explore the moral complexities and political nuances still at work when she presents the 2015 Distinguished Lecture, hosted by Griffith’s School of Government and International Relations.

‘The Price of Peace: Justice and Human Rights in Peace Negotiations’ is the title of this year’s lecture to be delivered to an invited audience at Brisbane City Hall on Tuesday, October 27.

“Peace, most of us agree, is an absolute, universal and fundamental good. It is something we strive to achieve, to nurture, to maintain. It is a good we readily profess we will pursue ‘at all costs’,” says Professor Jeffery whose body of work reaches from Cambodia in the early 1980s to, most recently, the Bangsomoro framework that has been negotiated to end decades of conflict in the southern Philippines.

“When time is of the essence and each new delay in the peace process brings more death and human rights violations, what options has a peacemaker? How are amnesties factored into the negotiations and how is the absolute need for peace balanced with the desire for transitional or post-conflict justice?”

Professor Jeffery’s presentation will include modern-day examples of the acute challenges she has witnessed during fieldwork and research in hot spots like East Timor, Solomon Islands, Bougainville, and Aceh (Indonesia).

This year’s Distinguished Lecture will also examine the impact of a UN decision in 1999 to shift its policy on peace negotiations and withdraw the offer of amnesties from the agreement process.

“For a long time there was an assumption that an amnesty had to be offered to buy peace. My research project tests the validity of this assumption and considers what represents the best set of outcomes for post-conflict societies. It’s important to continuously test the validity and relevance of this assumption given the complexities of peace negotiations.”