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Why negotiate when you can criminalise? Lessons for conflict transformation from Northern Ireland and South Africa

Studies in Conflict and TerrorismJournal abstract

Research on negotiating with criminalised actors generally assumes the criminal label as a given, neglecting the significance of criminalisation itself. This article addresses this gap arguing that the processes of criminalisation and decriminalisation embody important incentive structures affecting peace negotiations. Specifically, for conflict transformation to effectively occur, criminalisation needs to be orientated away from a criminalisation of actors and on to specific acts to legitimise nonviolent political expression and negotiations. These arguments will be advanced through a comparative study of Northern Ireland and South Africa, adopting a conflict transformation framework, and drawing on sixty-three original interviews and archival material.