Communicating peace agreements (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1384)

Lessons learnt from how countries have communicated peace agreements to their populations in advance of referendums

Abstract

The question asked for this helpdesk report:

  • What lessons can be learnt from how countries have communicated the contents of peace agreements to their populations in advance of popular referendums?

There is limited research on the process of conducting such referendums and how to communicate the contents of peace agreements and constitutions to the electorate. The 1998 referendum in Northern Ireland has received the greatest attention in the literature. Available research focuses on factors that can influence whether a referendum is likely to be won, including discussion of campaign strategies.

These factors include:

  • allocating sufficient time for planning, informing and implementation

  • undertaking broad-based consultation and inclusive participation

  • implementing a variety of voter education strategies targeting all levels of society

  • ensuring media coverage, which is likely to inform what people think

  • communicating a ‘no alternative’ narrative that draws on prospect theory

  • reaching marginalised groups.

This report includes 4 country examples: Northern Ireland (1998); South Africa (1992); Cyprus (2004); Guatemala (1999).

Citation

Haider, H. Communicating peace agreements (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1384). GSDRC, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2016)

Communicating peace agreements (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1384)

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