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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

(p.23) 2 Former prisoners in a global context
Abandoning Historical Conflict?

Peter Shirlow

Jonathan Tonge

James McAuley

Catherine McGlynn

Manchester University Press

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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