Northern Ireland and North Korea: exemplars of peace processes and the management of conflict?
Two of the most durable conflicts extant in today’s world are those taking place in Northern Ireland and North Korea. Both appear intractable, with one having roots going back centuries and the other lasting fifty years or more (on the Korean peninsula) with no end in sight. Peace processes have been intermittent in Northern Ireland for quite a while and, from some stand points, thought to be promisingly pursued since 1994. North Korea may also have moved a bit and has delayed its nuclear military activities in return for two light-water reactors from the USA and South Korea. By the end of 1997, North Korea had also held high-level discussions with American Department of State and agreed to open negotiations on a peace treaty for the Korean peninsula (which had been previously proposed by the USA and South Korea). Many observers wonder if these two conflicts (Northern Ireland and North Korea) may now be inching slowly toward meaningful management, some sort of eventual and ultimate resolution perhaps, and the avoidance, in the short run, of further large-scale armed aggression. Is it possible that peace might “break out” for these possible exemplars, or that significant change is imminent?