Human Rights and Healthy Societies: Opening Social and Cultural Spaces for Peacebuilding
Exploring peace demands rethinking many of the assumptions that have driven the field of peacebuilding. Previously, scholars have investigated the content of peace agreements in relation to the promotion of sectors that include security, justice, and democracy. However, I hypothesize that by focusing narrowly on these areas, scholars and peacemakers overlook crucial ingredients that create stable post-conflict societies. This senior thesis examines the inclusion of social and cultural rights in peace agreements and aims to contribute to a more robust understanding of whether traditionally “soft” issues like education, art, and women’s participation may have significant impacts on the long-term health of society—and therefore positively influence the root causes of conflict. I study the transitional processes in Northern Ireland to determine how a human rights based approach to peace agreements and peace processes, specifically the inclusion of social and cultural rights protections, relates to the prospects for sustainable peace and a healthy post-conflict society. I make conclusions about the contributions a human rights based approach makes while considering the challenges to achieving a sustainable peace and healthy society both in Northern Ireland’s context specifically and more broadly.