Making peace work through law

About Cambridge Initiative on Peace Settlements


The Cambridge Initiative on Peace Settlements supports conflict parties and mediators in developing pathways towards peace. The initiative aims to demonstrate that a peace settlement is not in fact beyond reach, and to highlight options that the parties can explore to address principal conflict issues. It is unique—it brings to bear specialist, often legal expertise, to a variety of apparently intractable conflicts around the globe.


  • Overcome entrenched positions characterising ‘intractable’ conflicts by assisting the sides in articulating their underlying needs and interests.
  • Assist negotiating parties and mediators to focus on actual text and options that address key concerns and interests.
  • Analyse ways that specific conflict issues have been addressed elsewhere, and the principal approaches available to manage differences.
  • Refine options that lead the sides into the zone of possible agreement.
  • Support transformation of options into draft language at a high technical standard.


CIPS draws on the experience of Professor Marc Weller, who has successfully served as a Senior Mediation Expert for the United Nations, Mediation Policy Reviewer for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and Senior Legal Advisor in a number of major peace negotiations. He has worked with the late Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi, Jamal Benomar, Staffan de Mistura, and many others. Cases covered by him, and his Cambridge team, include the independence of Kosovo and South Sudan, the negotiations for Darfur (Western Sudan), leading to the Doha Peace Agreement, the drafting of the 2011 GCC peace agreement for Yemen, and situations in Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Myanmar, Somalia, Eritrea, Libya, and many others. The work of the Cambridge team has been recognised with major academic prizes, including the 2017 ASIL Jus Gentium Award for the Language of Peace web resource, and the University of Cambridge Vice Chancellor’s Award for Impact. Professor Weller is also the recipient of the 2014 Halsbury Award for stellar work combining scholarship and legal practice.

The key scholarly output of the Cambridge team has been the Language of Peace web resource, which offers an analytical digest of peace agreements since World War II, making previous settlement experiences readily available for scholarship and peace negotiations. This output has been officially adopted by the United Nations as its own resource and is continually updated and developed in cooperation with the Cambridge team. The repository of settlement provisions has been analysed in a deep academic study by Cambridge University Press, International Law and Peace Settlements (ed. Marc Weller, Mark Retter and Andrea Varga), in cooperation with a team of 31 expert authors.

The unique approach of addressing intractable conflicts through options and draft elements for a settlement was pioneered in relation to the Ukraine conflict in 2022. This work was rapidly published through a dedicated website with contributions from a network of about 30 subject matter experts.