Published in Civil Wars in 2002, this article argues that the key to the long-term stability of peace settlements is the ability of political leaders to change the social organisation and execution of power from force/violence-centred structures to those of consensual politics. This is a complex and long process that requires institutional reform, economic reconstruction, and the rebuilding of (civil) society. Using Northern Ireland as an example, this article argues that only a comprehensive strategy focusing on all three dimensions can ultimately succeed in providing conditions that are conducive to sustainable peace in formerly conflict torn societies.