Peace is what we make of it? Peace-shaping events and ‘non-events’

11. Gëzim Visoka (2016), ‘Peace is what we make of it? Peace-shaping events and ‘non-events”, Peacebuilding4(1): 54-70.

Attempts to build peace often fail to achieve the intended outcomes. Such endeavours often lead to unintended effects shaped by multiple factors, events, and actors. This raises the question: if the intentional actions that constitute peace processes do not succeed in bringing about their intended impact, what actually shapes peace? This article argues that peace is shaped by events and non-events within and beyond the liberal peace architecture, as well as being determined by local agents who are not directly or intentionally involved in peacebuilding endeavours. While the success of liberal peace is measured based on the generalised assemblage of selected events, the unintended, unanticipated, and unprevented events that emerge as consequences arising from liberal peace actions are reduced to non-events to minimise responsibility. However, the power of these ignored non-events that occur at local institutional, public, and everyday levels have been crucial to shaping the nature, process, duration, and politics of peacebuilding. Unpacking the politicisation of events and non-events reveals that peace is what we make of it rather than a true reflection of the complex reality in conflict-affected societies. To substantiate this conceptualisation of abstruse peace, this article draws on examples from numerous events and non-events as experienced in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Timor-Leste.


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