Context and Postconflict Referendums

Sung Yong Lee, Roger Mac Ginty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article argues that referendums in societies coming out of war often fit into the conflict resolution rather than the conflict transformation paradigm. As conflict resolution devices, they may be one-off events rather than part of a longer term attempt to recalibrate relationships between antagonistic groups. Using a number of case studies, the article argues that unless the ground is prepared beforehand, referendums may have a limited ability to bring about reconciliation. Some well-timed referendums have advanced peace processes at critical moments, but these are exceptions and we should be cautious in recommending them as exemplars to other cases. The article highlights three common contextual issues that limit the conflict amelioration possibility of referendums: the exclusion of key constituencies from debates on the referendum process, a lack of voter education, and generalized insecurity. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-64
Number of pages21
JournalNationalism and Ethnic Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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