Challenges to Peacebuilding: Managing Spoilers During Conflict Resolution

Sample Chapter
  • Edited Edward Newman and Oliver Richmond

    ISBN-10: 92-808-1126-6,
    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1126-1
    United Nations University Press
    July 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 interminably protracted: 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 and addressing threats to their implementation.

    Challenges to Peacebuilding approaches this problem by focussing on ‘spoilers’: groups and tactics that actively seek to obstruct or undermine conflict settlement through a variety of means, including terrorism and violence. It considers why spoilers and spoiling behaviour emerge and how they can be addressed, drawing upon experience from Northern Ireland, the Basque region, Bosnia, Colombia, Israel-Palestine, Cyprus, the Caucasus and Kashmir.

    This volume takes a ‘critical’ approach to the concept of spoiling and 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.


    Edward Newman is Director of Studies on Conflict and Security, Peace and Governance Programme, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan. Oliver Richmond is a Reader in the School of International Relations, University of St. Andrews, U.K.

    Contents Overview

    Part I: Spoiling, violence, and mediation

    • Internal and external dynamics of spoiling: A negotiation approach Karin Aggestam
    • Understanding the violence of insiders: Loyalty, custodians of peace, and the sustainability of conflict settlement
    • The linkage between devious objectives and spoiling behaviour in peace processes
    • Terrorism as a tactic of spoilers in peace processes
    • Spoilers or catalysts? The role of diasporas in peace processes
    • “New wars” and spoilers

    Part II: Cases

    • Northern Ireland: A peace process thwarted by accidental spoiling
    • Why do peace processes collapse? The Basque conflict and the three-spoilers perspective
    • Peace on whose terms? War veterans’ associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Spoilers in Colombia: Actors and strategies
    • The Israeli-Palestinian peace process: The strategic art of deception
    • Spoiling peace in Cyprus
    • The Abkhazia and South Ossetia cases: Spoilers in a nearly collapsed peace process
    • Spoilers and devious objectives in Kashmir


    • Edward Newman
    • Oliver Richmond,
    • Karin Aggestam
    • Marie-Joelle Zahar
    • Oliver Richmond
    • Ekaterina Stepanova
    • Yossi Shain
    • Ravinatha P. Aryasinha
    • Roger Mac Ginty
    • Daniele Conversi
    • Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic
    • Carlo Nasi
    • Magnus Ranstorp Nathalie Tocci
    • George Khutsishvili
    • Jaideep Saikia