December 16, 2020
Within the field of peace and conflict studies, data-production on peace agreements has rapidly increased. One complicated task for scholars and practitioners alike is understanding the relationships between peace agreements and the relationships between agreements and processes. For example, discerning when an agreement establishes continuity with previous agreements and, thus, belongs to the same peace process or when an agreement signals the start of a new peace process is not straightforward. In this study, I highlight what appears to be a fuzzy boundary for categorizing some disciplinary core concepts which, in turn, can cause our data to be unreliable. As a point of comparison, I investigate how two major peace agreement datasets – UCDP Peace Agreement Dataset and PA-X Peace Agreement Dataset – associate peace agreements with peace processes and find differences and ambiguities with respect to how they are coded in both databases. As a result of such inconsistencies, analyses drawn from these data can have different outputs and lead to misunderstandings about peace processes. Here, I demonstrate the disciplinary need for clearer principles to effectively associate peace agreements with peace processes and then argue for developing a disciplinary standard for the criteria used to operationalize peace processes. Crucially, a standard method for aggregating agreements into processes will facilitate consistent data production across databases.