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Dr Asli Ozcelik Olcay

Academic Coordinator of the GCILS

Asli Ozcelik Olcay is a Postdoctoral Researcher in International Law. She is also Academic Coordinator of the GCILS.

Asli’s principal research interests concern the relationship between peace-making and international law. Her PhD explored the role of international law in shaping the legal status, negotiation process, and content of peace agreements aiming to end intra-state armed conflicts. More broadly, she works in the fields of public international law, international human rights law, international criminal law, and comparative constitutional law, with a particular interest in the issues of non-state actors, self-determination, transitional justice, and post-conflict constitution-making. In addition to her research, Asli advises international organisations and NGOs on issues of human rights and conflict resolution. She is on the Steering Committee of the Glasgow Human Rights Network and a member of the Advisory Board of the Scottish Human Rights Defender Fellowship.

Asli was awarded her PhD by the University of Glasgow in 2018, having conducted part of her doctoral research at the European University Institute as a Visiting Researcher. She holds an LLM degree in International Law from Newnham College, University of Cambridge and an LLB from Bilkent University in Turkey.


Entrenching Peace in Law: Do Peace Agreements Possess International Legal Status?

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Some 650 peace agreements have been concluded between governments and armed opposition groups since 1990. These agreements often do not fulfil the criteria of sources in domestic or international law: they are negotiated outside the established lawmaking channels of domestic law and are signed by armed opposition groups, which are traditionally not accorded treaty-making capacity in international law. Yet many scholars contend that the international legal status of peace agreements should be recognised either as international(ised) or hybrid agreements. In some peace processes, negotiating parties also intend to attach international legal status to their agreement. Consequently, a rich repertoire has emerged on the question of the international legal status of peace agreements across the practice of peacemaking, United Nations Security Council (‘UNSC’) practice, domestic and international judicial and arbitral decisions, and scholarship. Providing a comprehensive examination of this repertoire, this article demonstrates that peace agreements are not yet attributed legal status in international law. However, it is also explained that the lack of international legal status of peace agreements does not yield their conclusion and implementation as precarious, as is often feared. Attaching international legal status to peace agreements would neither shield them from all domestic and international judicial challenges nor necessarily function as an incentive to conclude and comply with a peace agreement. The article concludes on the note that the lack of international legal status does not relegate peace agreements to ‘scraps of paper’, as the implementation of peace agreements can be enhanced by incorporation into domestic law and through international oversight mechanisms, including the tools at the disposal of the UNSC.

Melbourne Journal of International, 2020, Vol 21(1)

(Un)constitutional Change Rooted in Peace Agreements

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Peace agreements aiming to end intra-state armed conflicts have often provided for radical constitutional change, with more than 100 peace agreements concluded since 1989 containing provisions on constitutional reform. When such constitutional change is envisaged to take place within the framework of an existing constitution, as opposed to the making of a new constitution, hard-achieved deals between peace-making parties are exposed to ‘the unconstitutionality challenge’. Although there is ample literature on the making of a new constitution during transitions from conflict to peace, implementing a peace agreement within an existing constitutional framework and ‘the unconstitutionality challenge’ to peace reforms have not been fully examined to date. In this Article, we first identify the modalities in which ‘the unconstitutionality challenge’ is directed at constitutional change rooted in peace agreements. We do so through a comparative survey and by particular reference to peace processes in Colombia (with the FARC-EP) and the Philippines (regarding the Mindanao conflict). We then examine the promise and limitations of three legal strategies in addressing the unconstitutionality challenge: (i) recourse to international law in assessing unconstitutionality, (ii) transitionalism in judicial review, and (iii) attributing supra-constitutional or international legal status to peace agreements. We conclude that while each strategy has some merit, their effectiveness may be limited where they lack legal feasibility or political purchase. The resulting intractability of the unconstitutionality challenge, particularly in jurisdictions where there is a strong commitment to legalism, warrants a re-thinking of the link between peace-making and constitutional reform and the importance of taking existing constitutional frameworks in transitional countries seriously.

International Journal of Constitutional Law, 2020, Vol 18(4)

Tarik Olcay

The Challenges of Legalised Peacemaking: The Case of the 2012-2016 Peace Negotiations in Colombia

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In Turner, C. & Waehlisch, M. (eds) Rethinking Peace Mediation: Challenges of Contemporary Peacemaking Practice (Bristol University Press 2021)