Ontological Security and Peace-Building in Northern Ireland
Contemporary Security Policy
Ontological security, which focuses on the security of oneself, one's identity, and group affiliations, best informs the nature of sectarian conflict and conflict resolutions in contemporary Northern Ireland. This article seeks to move the debates over the role of ontological security concepts in international relations by applying a mainly theoretical discussion to testable case studies. While high-end, official peacemaking can be explained by rational actor models, constraints on peace-building remain ontologically driven. This explains the dichotomy between the dramatic reduction of violence since ‘the Troubles’ and the existential anxieties that persist despite the peace process. In parts of Northern Ireland politics and security are ontologically defined. Choices that might not seem rational in the sense of value maximizing are better understood via this framework. Northern Ireland shows a clear correlation between ontological security frameworks and post-peace process developments. Ontological security also shows the possibilities and limits for exporting formally rational, state-centred models of peacemaking, and reminds us that the urban geographer might be as important a security actor as the diplomat or military representative.
Kay, Sean, "Ontological Security and Peace-Building in Northern Ireland" (2012). Politics & Government Faculty Work. 36.
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