Discursive legitimisation of the Colombian peace process in the context of war

  • Allison Aylward

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis applies Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and a three-part legitimisation framework to elite level political discourse in order to identify how the FARC-EP and the Santos administration discursively legitimised their shift from war to peace and the Colombian peace process overall. Complementing the main analytical framework, this thesis has also applied the framing approach in order to understand how political actions were discursively authorised. The analysis of two key developments during the negotiations, the Joint Demining Exercise and the agreement on the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), has resulted in an understanding of how both parties legitimised their participation in these key agreements and, consequently, the legitimisation of the peace process. Through the use of linguistic elements and affective frames, political elites were able to create a narrative that would resonate with their core constituencies, thus promoting intra-group legitimisation. This research has implications for our understanding of how to bring actors, particularly insurgency movements, to the negotiating table and to ensure their full organisational commitment. It considers questions of legitimacy, justification, and control in both state actors and insurgency movements. Finally, it offers an argument for how a peace process can not only exist, but also progress, within the context of war.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorPeter McLoughlin (Supervisor) & Katy Hayward (Supervisor)


  • critical discourse analysis
  • discourse analysis
  • Colombia
  • peace processes
  • Legitimacy
  • Insurgency groups

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