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Abandoning Historical Conflict?Former Political Prisoners and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland$
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Peter Shirlow, Jon Tonge, and James McAuley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719080111

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719080111.001.0001

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Former prisoners in a global context

Former prisoners in a global context

Chapter:
(p.23) 2 Former prisoners in a global context
Source:
Abandoning Historical Conflict?
Author(s):

Peter Shirlow

Jonathan Tonge

James McAuley

Catherine McGlynn

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719080111.003.0003

This chapter highlights the importance of prisoner releases in peace processes beyond Northern Ireland. Where the terms of such releases are ambiguous, or freedom is used overtly as a bargaining chip, the beneficial effects are often only brief. The chapter offers a set of ‘ideal-type’ conditions for prisoner releases, to maximise the chances of such measures making a positive contribution to sustainable peace. It also highlights how the literature on demilitarisation, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR) has tended to overlook the centrality of prisoner releases to a successful peace process. Moreover, the focus has often been upon the mechanics of demobilisation of ‘armies’ at the expense of a serious consideration of whether those former combatants have adapted their political views. Disarmament as part of the overall DDR process represents a dilemma for governments. Former prisoners and other combatants often form part of the newly reconstituted armed forces, as has happened in Namibia, Tajikistan and Cambodia, among other countries.

Keywords:   prisoner releases, peace process, Northern Ireland, demilitarisation, demobilisation, reintegration, combatants, former prisoners, disarmament, armed forces

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