SESSION 2: 11:45 AM - 1:15 PM

Panel B: Extending an Olive Branch: Discerning the Path to Peace

C104 Hesburgh Center

Moderator: Olivier Morel

Truce Teams in a Time of War: Localized Third-Party Intervention in the Chinese Civil War

Jacob Finke, Washington University in St. Louis

​​After the surrender of Japan in August 1945, The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) were poised to resume their civil war, which they had been fighting intermittently since 1927. In January 1946, a US envoy, sent to broker peace, and his Chinese counterparts issued a directive establishing truce teams. This research analyzes the role of truce teams in the United States’ failed intervention into the Chinese civil war in 1946. Truce teams, comprised of military representatives from the militaries of the United States, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and Kuomintang (KMT), traveled to areas with recent or ongoing hostilities and brokered peace on a small scale. In addition to halting hostilities, the teams were also responsible for the repatriation of Japanese soldiers and the reconstruction of China’s communication and transportation infrastructure. Although the truce teams ultimately failed to prevent full-on civil war, this—the United States’ first intervention in the post-WWII era—can serve as a guide for third-party intervention in civil wars. Using archival materials and contemporary intervention theory, I have found factors that led to the teams’ failures: undefined and creeping scope, lack of diplomatic experience by team members, and lack of mutual trust and understanding. The truce teams—a unique attempt at intervention on a local level—have been written off as a failure. However, by identifying specific points of failure, I argue that this localized approach to conflict intervention can be replicated, with improvements to the aforementioned areas, in contemporary conflicts. 


Making GreenPeace: The Theory and Practice of Environmental Peacebuilding in Israel and Palestine

Elsa Barron, University of Notre Dame

There is no way to separate peace and conflict from the environment in which it takes place. This includes, among others, the economic, political, ethnic, religious, and physical environment. However, the last of these, physical environment, is often ignored when interpreting human interaction. If it is considered, its influence is often limited to the motivation behind conflict, rather than the motivation behind collaboration. I argue, however, that environmental collaboration is an important peace-building tool, and deserves further analysis. I develop a theory of environmental peace-building based off of the specific case in Israel/Palestine. This case simultaneously provides insights from a region that is prone to conflict as well as environmental challenges such as drought and cross-boundary water contamination. In this region, environmental peace-building is a widely used, but largely uncharacterized tool that can effectively maintain human ties across boundaries even in the most difficult of conflicts. There is great ambiguity in current literature as to whether environmental peace-building has a significant effect on violence. However, eliminating armed conflict is usually not the goal of environmental programs. Instead of framing environmental peace-building as a tool to end violence, it should be analyzed as a tool to build positive peace. Environmental peace-building initiatives create positive peace through inter-religious dialogue, creating connections between communities, and education/empowerment.


The Roots of Peace: Environmental Peacebuilding and Transboundary Protected Areas in Border Regions

Terese Schomogyi, University of Notre Dame

"Environmental peacebuilding is a comprehensive theory and strategy to transform conflicts over natural resources into spaces for collaboration. It integrates issues of human security, conflict, and wellbeing into an ecological framework to foster peace and fuel sustainable development. Transboundary protected areas (TBPAs) are one way to practice environmental peacebuilding and engage multileveled actors and systems through joint management and protection of natural areas that cross borders. I investigate the effectiveness of environmental peacebuilding and TBPAs using both constructivist political theory and strategic peacebuilding theory as frameworks. I evaluate existing TBPAs for their ability to mitigate tension and foster peace through collaboration and norm shifting on the ground, and use my findings to look at western United States-Mexico border as a case study for a future TBPA. Given the contexts of border conflict, inequitable water management, human and animal migration, and existing environmental protection in this area, a TBPA in this region could establish new norms of collaboration, resource-sharing, and grassroots-level cultural exchanges while fostering peace and conserving biodiversity.”