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Richard Caplan’s seminal book, Measuring Peace, offers objective indicators of how to measure peace. Caplan seeks to answer amongst other things: How can we know if the peace that has been established following a civil war is stable? And if peace is achieved, will there be a relapse? His research focuses on the international community’s efforts to spend billions of dollars and deploy thousands of personnel each year in support of efforts to initiate peace in countries embroiled in or emerging from violent conflict.

Keeping in mind the many questions Caplan seeks to answer, one is compelled to think and wonder about the aftermath of large-scale violence, especially the impact on human social interaction. Which, in other words, would translate to study the reconciliation between people in post-conflict situations. Using the human social interaction as a lens of interpretation one might be enabled to highlight and possibly offer insights as to how one can accelerate the process of building and keeping sustainable peace.

Furthermore, Caplan shares three key concepts which form the cornerstone of peace: stability, security, and resilience. Additionally, Caplan acknowledges the political constraints which obstruct measurements of peace. One might go to the extent to suggest that such interference is questionable and buttress this using the Westphalia State model of the sovereignty of states. However, a straightforward rebuttal to that would be the international state responsibility and the responsibility to protect (R2P) which is a global commitment endorsed by all member states of the United Nations. R2P aims to address four key concerns: prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. The ‘key concerns,’ to some extent might also be important thresholds to accept or imagine third-party intervention. Caplan highlights the causes of conflict and one of the causes is geography. According to the author, geography forms the bedrock and core reason for almost all international legal disputes.

One such case is that of Cyprus. After the British decolonization process and after the Zurich Agreement, Cyprus became an independent Republic. Once the Constitution was signed, the United Kingdom transferred land sovereignty to the two parties of the island, thus the Republic of Cyprus was born. As per the Agreement, Greece and Turkey were named guarantor states. However, peace amongst Turkish and Greek Cypriots did not last long. In 1963, due to an armed attack by Greek Cypriots, the Republic came to an end. After this breakaway, Turkish Cypriots began to set up their administration that managed their affairs. Third-party intervention in the form of the UN Peacekeeping troops took charge in Cyprus in 1964. In retaliation, by 1974, Greece deployed 20,000 troops to Cyprus.

Presently, the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) maintains a buffer zone between the two. This zone is commonly known as the “Green Line.” The demarcation not only serves as a scar but it has become a way of life. In an attempt to justify its actions, Turkey held that its acts were in line with the Treaty of Guarantee. From a legal perspective, it has been argued that the choice of wording in Article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee and particularly the word “action” does not authorize the use of force. Even if Article 4 was to be construed as authorizing the use of force, it is inconsistent with Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. The Treaty of Guarantee cannot take precedence over the UN Charter. Specifically, under Article 103 of the UN Charter, the Treaty of Guarantee is rendered void ab initio.

The core disputes between Turkish and Greek Cypriots have survived to this day. The UNFICYP has made progress in its primary task of preventing inter-communal war. Thereby achieving peacekeeping. Moreover, the UNFICYP has also made a substantial contribution in maintaining peace and security and “normalization” of conditions between communities. In these respects, the United Nations has defined the UNFICYP as a “successful” peacekeeping operation.

In an attempt to make a thorough assessment of the effectiveness of the UNFICYP, one must focus on the mandate of the UNFICYP. Under the mandate, the mission must prevent a recurrence of fighting, contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order, and, contribute to a return to normal conditions. To the last point, one could add that, any hope of a return to status quo antebellum is futile, thus settling is the only way to return to any resemblance of normal conditions on the island. In this regard, the role and mandate of the UNFICYP have been naturally oriented for “returning to normal conditions.” And, this is the sole area, which the UNFICYP knows very well that its main effectiveness could be felt in the daily life of both communities.

To conclude, one can note that Caplan acknowledges the lack of an international measurement to measure or even assess peace and elaborates on that by focusing on the point that the third party settlements such as those of the United Nations are motivated by output and not the outcome. In the end, one is left to imagine and re-imagine when will nations rid themselves of the scaffoldings of peace?

Ankit Malhotra is reading Law at Jindal Global Law School and is the President of the Jindal Society of International Law.