Peace agreements are a pivotal moment in the transition from long-running conflict to the establishment of a functioning state. Often perceived as offering a clean slate from which to start again, post-conflict conditions often present the hardest environments for institutional reform. This paper argues that the more protracted the conflict, the more the conflict takes on the character of an institution in itself. Moving beyond institutionalized conflict towards functioning state institutions therefore requires a clear understanding of tasks, sequencing, and physical and human resources.

Using detailed textual analysis of peace agreements over the last two decades, this paper categorizes agreements according to their primary goal or context. It then identifies seven key building blocks for peace processes.

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