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The calculus of peace and conflict: a contractualist perspective

Sapir Handelman (Conflict Studies Division, Achva Academic College, Shikmim, Israel and Minds of Peace, Tel-Aviv, Israel)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 9 July 2021

Issue publication date: 27 July 2021




Intractable conflict is a long-time violent and self-perpetuating crisis. The peacemaking revolution has the potential to stop the destructive dynamic of the conflict. The purpose of this paper is to present a contractualist model of a peacemaking revolution and its theoretical foundations. It analyzes the revolutionary peacemaking process in Northern Ireland during the 1990s in light of the contractualist model.


The paper presents a contractualist model to describe the interplay between leaders (policymakers) and people (public opinion) and its impact on the strategy to cope with situations of intractable conflict. The paper includes theoretical background and a case study analysis.


The peacemaking revolution is a process of dynamic equilibrium between peacemaking policy and public expectations for change. It progresses from one point of equilibrium to the next.


The paper intends to add a fresh perspective to the study of the peacemaking revolution, in general, and the interplay between peacemaking policy and public support in particular. It points out that a consensus-building process, which combines political-elite diplomacy and public diplomacy, has the potential to create the conditions for a peacemaking revolution. Political-elite diplomacy offers diplomatic channels for leaders to begin a peace process, support it and conclude agreements. Public diplomacy offers instruments to involve the people in the peacemaking efforts, prepare them for a change and motivate the leaderships to conclude agreements.



Handelman, S. (2021), "The calculus of peace and conflict: a contractualist perspective", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 673-696.



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