Former prisoners in a global context

Peter Shirlow, Jonathan Tonge, James McAuley and Catherine McGlynn

in Abandoning Historical Conflict?

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780719080111
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703038 | DOI:
Former prisoners in a global context

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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

Chapter.  10079 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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