The decommissioning issue has been central to the peace process in Northern Ireland. Decommissioning of the IRA implies an acknowledgement that the only way to achieve a united Ireland is through a political and democratic process and thus it underscores why the republican movement has been reluctant to accept decommissioning and furthermore it explains why the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Great Britain has been equally persistent in insisting that decommissioning of the IRA is essential to establish confidence in Sinn Féin as a political actor. This thesis explains how the decommissioning issue has threatened the peace process in Northern Ireland and analyse this problem from three different angles, employing game theory and Putnams model of politics as a two-level game:
·How did the use of threats influence the exploratory phase, the all-party talks about Northern Irelands political future, in the peace process?
·How did the design of the Good Friday Agreement affect the implementation of the decommissioning issue in the aftermath of 1998?
·How did internal debates between Sinn Féin and the IRA lead to the IRA accepting decommissioning in October 2001?