1st Edition

Peace Settlements and Political Transformation in Divided Societies Rethinking Northern Ireland and South Africa

By Adrian Guelke Copyright 2023
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    Peace Settlements and Political Transformation in Divided Societies examines what happened to Northern Ireland and South Africa after their miraculous political settlements in the 1990s, in which comparison between the two cases played a small but significant role.

    The author extends the story by exploring the connections between these two deeply divided societies during the consolidation of their settlements. He shows the ways in which their paths have subsequently diverged in both reality and perception. At the outset of the transformation of the two polities, the similarities between the two cases tended to be overstated. In this context, the book explains how the South African case came to be misidentified as an example of consociationalism, and the influence that this has continued to exert on comparative studies of power-sharing. In the process, other aspects of South Africa's political transformation, including respect for the constitution and the rule of law, have been overlooked and underappreciated. In the case of Northern Ireland, a missing element in the treatment of its settlement as a model for other deeply divided societies has been the role that external mediation played in the creation and survival of its institutions. Northern Ireland's dependence on favourable external circumstances explains in large part why the Good Friday Agreement is now facing a threat to its survival. By contrast, South Africa's political institutions seem relatively secure, despite the vast scale of the country's socio-economic problems.

    This book will be of interest to students, researchers and scholars of conflict resolution and peace processes, comparative politics, ethnic politics and democratisation, as well as those involved in the governance of deeply divided societies.

    1. A Brief History of the Comparison

    2. Overcoming Intractable Conflicts

    Part I: Northern Ireland

    3. Implementation

    4. Consolidation

    5. External Challenges

    Part II: South Africa

    6. Reconciliation

    7. Party Battles

    8. Internal Challenges

    Part III: Comparison

    9. Framing the Cases

    10. Conclusion

    Postscript: Desmond Tutu and the Northern Ireland Peace Process


    Adrian Guelke is Professor Emeritus in Comparative Politics at Queen’s University Belfast, UK. He is attached to the Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics. He edited Nationalism and Ethnic Politics from 2010 to 2018.

    "Adrian Guelke has written an important book comparing the peace settlements and political transformations in Northern Ireland and South Africa. He goes about the task in distinctive fashion, tracing the history of comparison of the two cases and the intermittent linkages between them, while highlighting the changing international context… He argues that Northern Ireland and South Africa are two deeply divided societies, with deep set horizontal inequalities, and politicisation of social divisions. But their settlements differed radically, with different sorts of problems and different roles for reconciliation."

    Jennifer Todd, University College Dublin, Ireland, writing in Irish Political Studies, 2023

    “This book provides a synthesis of the valuable contributions that Professor Guelke has made to the study of modern South Africa and Northern Ireland.  It is lucidly written and will be of use to students and scholars alike.”

    Robert McNamara, Ulster University, UK, writing in Utafiti 18, 2023