Civil wars increasingly end in negotiated settlements. Some settlements end in a lasting peace, others fail and wars recur. Some settlements are negotiated effectively, others only after prolonged negotiations. At times warring parties themselves reach an agreement and implement it, at others negotiations are concluded only because external actors, such as the UN, have been heavily involved. Some parties fight while negotiating, others uphold ceasefire. What factors affect the dynamics of peace negotiations in civil wars? How does external involvement affect conflict and negotiation processes? What factors determine negotiating agenda? For example, does the decision to fight and negotiate in parallel, as the warring parties did in Liberia prior to the conclusion of the Accra peace agreement (2003), influence negotiating topics? Under what conditions do negotiated peace agreements result in a durable peace?
These are the questions the project "Dynamics of Civil War Peace Negotiations: Causes and Consequences" addresses. More specifically, the project studies the factors that influence the bargaining dynamics between the warring parties, such as (i) mediation and enforcement guarantees provided by external actors and (ii) fighting between negotiating parties. Moreover, the project examines (iii) the bargaining dynamics in multiparty civil wars. Finally, the project focuses on how (iv) the dynamics of peace negotiations and (v) external enforcement guarantees may affect the stability of negotiated settlements. In studying these questions, the project uses novel data on bargaining duration and enforcement guarantees and draws on mixed method approaches that encompass formal models and applied quantitative methods for structured and unstructured data such as textual data.
The most important findings of the project can be summarized as follows. (1) External enforcement guarantees, in particular those coming from the UN, tend to prolong peace negotiations, thereby delaying the termination of civil wars. External enforcement helps create peace, but only at the price of delayed agreement and thus (at least in some cases) additional battle deaths during the negotiation process. Consequently, external enforcement guarantees should be conditional on the declaration of a ceasefire between the parties. (2) Conflict parties' expectations about external enforcement influence the terms and stability of a peace agreement: if the parties incorrectly believe that the settlement they will eventually reach will be externally enforced, they may end up with an unstable settlement, that is, a settlement that is too asymmetric to be self-enforced. (3) Conflict parties condition their decision to use violence on other conflict actors, but also on their beliefs about the effectiveness of the mediator to bring about or even enforce peace. When conflict parties have heterogeneous information about the effectiveness and commitment of the mediator, they are more likely to escalate violence as the number of mediators involved increases. However, frequent mediation attempts mitigate this negative effect on the conflict dynamics in multiparty wars and lead to de-escalation of violence. (4) External mediation influences negotiating agenda in civil wars. In particular, outside mediation reduces the need for conflict parties to negotiate on issues related to security and implementation, including demilitarization and organization of ceasefires. (5) The intensity of conflict influences negotiating agenda as well. In particular, in more deadly conflicts the parties at the negotiating table attempt to solve commitment problems related to de-militarization and ceasefires and focus less on the implementation issues. (6) The longer time the conflict parties use on negotiating a settlement, (i) the less likely that the settlement will fail, and (ii) the more durable the resulting peace is.
Achieved outcomes include the project manager's enhanced research competence, international research collaboration, and expanded research network. Potential outcomes are related to the eventual use of the project's results by different user stakeholders, such as international and nongovernmental organizations, states, and individuals involved in the resolution of internal armed conflicts. Potential impact of the project is related to a change in policy and practice related to mediation and enforcement of peace agreements. To achieve that effect, all research papers include policy recommendations for actors involved in the resolution of internal armed conflicts, specifically mediators and enforcers of peace agreements. The project's findings are potentially beneficial for society in general, in particular for citizens and states affected by civil wars.
The project studies civil war peace negotiations, in particular the bargaining dynamics between warring parties. Extant literature has predominantly dealt with (1) the conditions under which negotiated settlements in civil wars are possible and (2) their durability. In contrast, this project focuses on the bargaining dynamics, in particular on their determinants, but also on their consequences (the stability and the terms of peace agreements). Specifically, I investigate how (1) fighting and (2) enforcement guarantees affect the bargaining dynamics between the belligerents, as well as (3) the dynamics in multiparty civil wars in which the number and relative military power of rebel groups vary throughout the war. In addition, I explore whether (4) the dynamics of peace negotiations affect the stability of a negotiated settlement and if so, how. Finally, I focus on (5) the determinants of the settlement terms in sequential partial peace negotiations in multiparty civil wars.
The project will make important contributions by developing precise theoretical arguments on the conditions for conflict resolution in civil wars, including multiparty civil wars with fragmented actors, and by properly testing implications from these arguments. The project employs a multi-methods research strategy that combines formal modelling, large-N statistical analyses, and case studies. The intended contribution of the project is both theoretical and empirical. The theoretical contribution relies on game-theoretic models, while the empirical contribution includes testing of empirical implications of formal models and (2) collection of new data.
The project thus aims to contribute to rationalist explanations for war and has broad policy relevance taking into consideration that civil war has, since World War II, been the most common and deadly form of violence in the international system.