Cover image for Crafting Peace: Power-Sharing Institutions and the Negotiated Settlement of Civil Wars By Caroline A. Hartzell and Matthew Hoddie

Crafting Peace

Power-Sharing Institutions and the Negotiated Settlement of Civil Wars

Caroline A. Hartzell, and Matthew Hoddie


$34.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-03208-5

Available as an e-book

208 pages
6" × 9"

Crafting Peace

Power-Sharing Institutions and the Negotiated Settlement of Civil Wars

Caroline A. Hartzell, and Matthew Hoddie

“This engaging and rigorous research addresses one of the most vexing issues in achieving postwar peace: forging and maintaining power-sharing among the protagonists in conflict. They argue, quite convincingly and with a diverse research design—and against conventional wisdom—that more power-sharing is better to achieve durable peace in war-torn societies. Scholars and practitioners working to negotiate and implement settlements in civil wars will want to read this volume and reconsider some of the skepticism that swirls around power-sharing today.”


  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
The recent efforts to reach a settlement of the enduring and tragic conflict in Darfur demonstrate how important it is to understand what factors contribute most to the success of such efforts. In this book, Caroline Hartzell and Matthew Hoddie review data from all negotiated civil war settlements between 1945 and 1999 in order to identify these factors.

What they find is that settlements are more likely to produce an enduring peace if they involve construction of a diversity of power-sharing and power-dividing arrangements between former adversaries. The strongest negotiated settlements prove to be those in which former rivals agree to share or divide state power across its economic, military, political, and territorial dimensions.

This finding is a significant addition to the existing literature, which tends to focus more on the role that third parties play in mediating and enforcing agreements. Beyond the quantitative analyses, the authors include a chapter comparing contrasting cases of successful and unsuccessful settlements in the Philippines and Angola, respectively.

“This engaging and rigorous research addresses one of the most vexing issues in achieving postwar peace: forging and maintaining power-sharing among the protagonists in conflict. They argue, quite convincingly and with a diverse research design—and against conventional wisdom—that more power-sharing is better to achieve durable peace in war-torn societies. Scholars and practitioners working to negotiate and implement settlements in civil wars will want to read this volume and reconsider some of the skepticism that swirls around power-sharing today.”
“This landmark study is the best book available on the relatively recent experiment of ending civil wars by constructing power-sharing governments from former adversaries. The identification of four dimensions of power-sharing is a major theoretical development. The original data set is subjected to sophisticated quantitative analysis and is buttressed by impressive in-depth case studies. The conclusions are important for both theoretical and policy reasons. Every future researcher will have to take this analysis into consideration.”
Crafting Peace is a well-articulated and impressively researched book with important implication for literatures on civil wars, civil war termination, and effect of institutions in fostering cooperation.”

Caroline A. Hartzell is Associate Professor of Political Science at Gettysburg College.

Matthew Hoddie is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Towson University.


List of Tables and Figures


Abbreviations and Acronyms

Introduction: Institutions and the Negotiated Settlement of Civil Wars

1. After the Fighting Stops: Security Concerns, Institutions, and the Post–Civil War Environment

2. Creating Power-Sharing and Power-Dividing Institutions

3. Institutionalizing an Enduring Peace

4. Implementing Power-Sharing and Power-Dividing Agreements

5. Negotiating for Peace in Angola and the Philippines: Case Studies of Failure and Success






Institutions and the Negotiated Settlement of Civil Wars

Institutions can have a powerful influence on shaping social conflict. South Africa, a country that endured a brutal civil war throughout the 1980s between its black majority and white minority, is a particularly telling example of the capacity of institutions to foster either conflict or cooperation among collectivities with distinct interests. Institutions that fostered violent conflict appeared in South Africa early in the twentieth century. Several pieces of legislation, including the Natives Land Act (No. 27) of 1913, marked the institutionalization of racial discrimination in that country. The reaction of blacks to such measures was swift and included, most prominently, the formation of the South African Native National Congress (renamed the African National Congress [ANC] in 1923). Following the initiation of the policy of apartheid in 1948, ANC leaders called on the organization to use strikes, boycotts, and other forms of civil disobedience and noncooperation to challenge the apartheid system. With no other means of securing institutional change once the South African government outlawed the ANC and the Pan-Africanist Congress in 1960, efforts to change the rules of the game turned violent and took the form of a civil war in the early 1980s.

Despite the bitterness provoked by the conflict, the divided communities of South Africa proved capable of constructing an enduring peace. During the early 1990s, adversaries began the process of crafting a mutually acceptable settlement intended to ensure that minorities enjoyed a degree of influence at the political center and that the majority would be prohibited from using state power to threaten others. The means that the architects of the South African settlement relied upon to accomplish these goals were a series of power-sharing and power-dividing institutions. Institutions of this nature fostered an environment in which warring groups could lay down their arms and work together to fashion a peaceful future for South Africa that has now endured for more than ten years.

The tragedy associated with the civil conflict in South Africa is not an isolated incident. Today, intrastate conflicts are more common than wars between states. Twenty-five countries had ongoing civil wars as recently as 1999. The human costs associated with these conflicts are staggering. One estimate places the total number of deaths directly attributable to civil wars fought since World War II at 16.2 million. Another study calculates that the average number of refugees displaced by the fighting in each of these conflicts is more than one-half million. The indirect costs of these wars extend well beyond the hostilities themselves. Civilians, for example, continue to bear the costs of domestic warfare long after the fighting has ended. The breakdown in the provision of government services following civil wars leaves in its wake crises ranging from the rapid spread of infectious diseases to a higher incidence of violent criminal behavior.

This book, which is about the bargained resolution of civil wars, focuses on one means of bringing these conflicts to an end and building an enduring peace. The conventional wisdom is that negotiated settlements of civil wars are not only difficult to construct but are also among the forms of civil-conflict resolution least likely to produce an enduring peace. As the South African case illustrates, however, civil wars can successfully be ended via negotiated settlements. Drawing on a data set of all civil wars ended through negotiations between 1945 and 1999, we seek to draw attention to the merits of this particular means of ending civil conflicts as well as to identify those features of negotiated settlements that facilitate a long-lasting peace among former adversaries.

Our central argument is that those settlements that include an array of institutions designed to address the issue of central concern to adversaries emerging from civil war—the question of who will control the levers of state power—are the ones most likely to produce an enduring peace. Whatever the issues that may have given rise to armed conflict—diverging ideological preferences (as was the case in Cambodia, Laos, and Mozambique) or ethnic divisions (as seen in Bosnia and Zimbabwe)—after prolonged periods of fighting and large numbers of casualties, the core concern on which armed opponents ultimately fix their attention is the rules governing the use of power. Before they agree to lay aside their weapons permanently, adversaries seek to clarify who is to hold state power, how it is to be exercised, and to what end. In the case of negotiated settlements, this is most often accomplished by creating power-sharing and power-dividing institutions. In some cases the negotiated settlements that secure an end to the fighting are complex documents constructed with the assistance of international actors, as was the case with the 1991 Cambodian settlement. Others are simply verbal accords composed by the parties to the conflict, as was true of the 1970 Yemeni settlement. Either way, the power-sharing and power-dividing institutions contained in these agreements are the central mechanisms for establishing enduring, peaceful relations among former enemies.

This book is thus also about the role institutions play in structuring peace following civil wars. We argue that institutions perform three valuable functions that facilitate the construction of an enduring peace. First, institutions can be designed to address opponents’ concerns regarding who is to exercise power and the ends to which that power is to be used following a conflict’s termination. Rival groups will be more likely to commit to peace if assured that some group will not be able to seize power and use it at the expense of others. A case in point is the 1957 National Front Agreement constructed by Colombia’s long-term rivals, the Conservative and Liberal parties. The two entities fought repeated civil wars during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as each sought monopoly control of the state. Tiring of this cycle of violence, the elite of the two parties resolved to end the conflict by dividing power on the basis of a 50/50 power-sharing formula. For a period of sixteen years, the presidency rotated between the two parties every four years and seats in the congress were split evenly between the Conservatives and the Liberals. By adhering to this power-sharing arrangement, each party was placed in a position of prominence that provided the opportunity to both participate in governance and monitor the behavior of their former adversaries.

Second, the process of designing and implementing institutions as part of a negotiated civil war settlement signals the commitment of foes to building an enduring peace. Neither the design nor implementation of power-sharing and power-dividing institutions is a cost-free process; antagonists must typically abandon their interest in sole control of the state in exchange for the compromises associated with the sharing or dividing of power. The willingness of adversaries to endure these costs over time has the potential to serve as a costly indicator of their commitment to an enduring peace. Such a dynamic is apparent in the price exacted from both the government of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to end their civil war (1972–96). The government conceded a greater degree of political and economic autonomy for the MNLF on their home island of Mindanao than previously had been considered acceptable; simultaneously, the MNLF compromised its goals by abandoning its separatist demands and instead recognizing the legitimacy of the central state’s continued participation in the governance of the island. That both the government and the rebels willingly endured these losses in the interest of peace served to enhance the credibility of their mutual commitments to the creation and maintenance of a previously elusive stability.

Third, the institutions designed as part of a civil war settlement define the means by which social conflict is to be managed in the postwar state. Domestic order is reconstructed following a civil war on the basis of these institutions. If a stable peace is to be secured, groups must have a means, other than relying on the use of force, for resolving their disagreements. By making the design of institutions a central part of the process of ending a civil war, rival groups lay the foundations necessary for building an enduring peace. An example of this can be found in Malaysia. The institutions that formed the basis of that country’s settlement involved communal compromises designed to give Malays a larger stake in the economy while increasing non-Malay participation in the political system. Although these institutions eventually came under challenge and postelection race riots broke out in May 1969, a history of institutional accommodation made it possible for the country’s communal leaders to act in concert to resolve the crisis. The principal response they devised was a “New Economic Policy” (NEP). The NEP, announced in 1970, sought to create conditions for national unity by reducing the socioeconomic disparities that were believed responsible for interethnic resentment within the state.

A central contribution of this book is to develop these claims regarding the role institutions play in fostering peace in order to define what we term an institutional approach to the resolution of civil wars. This approach emphasizes the need to look beyond simply stopping the killing and encourages adversaries also to participate in constructing the institutional underpinnings of a lasting and self-enforcing peace. A durable peace is, after all, as much the product of the rules designed to govern postconflict society as it is of processes that succeed in getting factions to stop shooting at one another and lay down their arms. Unless new rules for managing conflict are agreed upon, groups may well (re)arm and initiate another round in the cycle of civil wars, which has been the disturbing pattern of recurring violence in countries such as Angola, Indonesia, and Iraq.

Ending Civil Wars: Negotiated Agreements as a Means of Stopping the Fighting

Civil wars may end in one of four ways. First, domestic wars may conclude by the process of military victory. Whether one group of actors triumphs over the other(s) by virtue of its own efforts (e.g., Argentina’s brief civil war in 1955) or whether foreign aid and/or foreign intervention prove decisive in leading one of the factions to win (e.g., Guatemala’s intrastate conflict in 1954), the outcome is the same: one party claims victory and the other(s) admits defeat. Table 1 demonstrates that this is the most common way by which civil wars have been ended. Of the 108 civil wars that were fought and then experienced a cessation in the fighting for some period of time between 1945 and 1999, fifty-five (51 percent) were ended through the process of military victory.

Second, civil wars may end by adversaries mutually conceding to negotiate a settlement. A negotiated settlement brings together representatives of the opposing groups, none of which acknowledge defeat, to discuss and agree to the terms by which they will bring armed conflict to a conclusion. One of the central characteristics of a negotiated settlement is that adversaries involved in this form of war-ending bargain directly address the question of how power is to be distributed and managed in the postwar state. Civil war adversaries may negotiate a settlement on their own (e.g., Colombia in 1957) or third parties may facilitate the development of such an agreement. Third-party involvement in the peace process has the potential to take varied forms, including military intervention intended to push for a negotiated settlement of the conflict (e.g., the United States in the Dominican Republic in 1965) or the offer of good offices to help facilitate such a settlement (e.g., the Quakers in the Sudan in 1972). Thirty-eight of the 108 conflicts (35 percent) that ended during the period under consideration experienced a cessation of hostilities as a result of a negotiated settlement.

Third, what we refer to as negotiated truces also have been used as a means of securing an end to violent civil conflict. Eleven civil wars since the end of World War II (10 percent of the conflicts we consider) have stopped, at least for some period of time, in this fashion. Negotiated truces differ from negotiated settlements in two ways. First, negotiated truces tend to focus on the process and modalities of ending violence in the short term. Much of the content of negotiated truces thus consists of the design of confidence-building measures and discussions of how truces are to be policed and enforced. Although some negotiated truces do include power-sharing and power-dividing institutions, these tend to focus on military and territorial issues such as the creation of safe havens and the means of protecting them. Negotiated truces, in other words, seldom address the challenging question of how power is to be exercised in the postwar state and by whom. Second, negotiated truces differ from negotiated settlements in that the former often make it a point to delay decisions regarding explicitly political issues. As a result, the peace secured by negotiated truces often resembles a type of “limbo” in which the fighting has come to an end but the ultimate state of relations among combatants and the rules of conflict regulation remain unclear, with a definitive characterization of these items postponed until some indefinite future.

The negotiated truce that secured an end to the fighting in Morocco following fifteen years of civil war illustrates the difference between negotiated settlements and truces. Civil war broke out in Morocco in 1976 after that country occupied territory formerly claimed by Spain as the overseas province of Spanish Sahara. The conflict pitted the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Río del Oro (Polisario), a nationalist group seeking to transform the former Spanish Sahara into an independent country, against the Moroccan army. A UN-sponsored truce brought the armed violence to an end in 1991 when a peacekeeping force arrived in the area to organize a referendum on self-determination for the territory. The referendum, originally scheduled for January 1992, has been postponed a number of times during the intervening years. Despite the lack of any permanent political agreement on the status of the former Spanish Sahara, a tenuous peace remains in place as groups continue discussions regarding the holding of a referendum.

A final path by which civil wars may experience a cessation of hostilities occurs when an arrangement is negotiated by one of the sets of combatants with third parties involved in the conflict or a peace of sorts is imposed by third parties. This process is apparent in only a handful of civil wars (four of all civil wars we consider, or 4 percent). The 1987 attempt to resolve the civil war in Sri Lanka is an illustration. Sri Lanka experienced a brief two-month respite from civil war stemming from an agreement signed by Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. India, which had for years lent support to minority Tamil movements seeking to carve a separate state out of the Sinhalese-dominated island, committed itself to securing the surrender of weapons held by Tamil militants and to provide military assistance for implementation of an accord that would have established a system of provincial councils on the island. Although the Tamil militant groups initially cooperated in the implementation of the peace accord the Indian and Sri Lankan governments had constructed without their consent, the agreement began to unravel as members of the minority collectivity became progressively more disenchanted with an arrangement adopted without their assent.

Why focus on negotiated means of ending civil wars? One reason is that negotiating an end to a war has the potential to be a less costly means of stopping the killing than waiting for one side to achieve military victory. The costs of a civil war may be calculated in a variety of different ways, including the loss of lives, destruction of property, and the damage done to relations with other states. Typically, however, the costs of civil wars are measured in terms of the numbers of lives lost in the conflict. Based on this measure, military victory appears to be a consistently more costly means of ending civil wars than any of the variants of negotiated agreements referred to above. The civil wars that ended via military victory between 1945 and 1999 produced an average of 170,706 battle deaths per conflict during this period. In contrast, the battle death average was 87,487 for wars in which the fighting was brought to an end through a negotiated settlement, 35,182 for wars ended via negotiated truces, and 15,000 for wars in which third parties imposed a peace.

A second reason for concentrating on negotiated settlements of civil wars is the prospect that this particular means of ending wars may produce a more enduring peace than wars terminated via military victories. Perhaps taking their cue from the study of interstate wars, academics concerned with civil wars typically have argued that military victories are likely to produce a more enduring peace in comparison to negotiated settlements. Recent studies, which take into account the current proliferation in the number of negotiated settlements to civil wars and employ methodologies appropriate to examining the question of the duration of the postwar peace, have, however, cast some doubt on that proposition. Negotiated settlements of civil wars may in fact produce just as stable a peace as military victories.

One means of demonstrating this claim regarding the durability of negotiated settlements is to investigate the association between the way civil wars end and the potential for renewed conflict. Between 1945 and 1999, fifty-five civil wars ended via a military victory; among these cases, thirty-two, or 58 percent of the total, went on to experience renewed fighting. In contrast, negotiated settlements experience a lower failure rate, with peace breaking down in only thirteen of the thirty-eight cases (34 percent of the total). Five of the eleven negotiated truces (46 percent of the total) experience a breakdown of peace while two of the four settlements negotiated with or imposed by third parties (50 percent of the total) see a return to war. Cumulatively, twenty of the fifty-three civil war cases (38 percent of the total) in which the fighting was ended via a negotiated agreement of some form experience a breakdown in peaceful relations.

Although the contrasting failure rates for the different settlement types are instructive, we cannot decisively conclude that negotiated civil war settlements prove more stable than do settlements secured via military victory. One reason is that the periods of peace following the civil wars in our data set vary enormously. Greece, for example, experienced fifty years of peace following the military victory that brought an end to that country’s civil war in 1949, a period of peace that was still enduring at the point at which we terminate our data set; by comparison, the peace in Kosovo, engineered by a negotiated settlement, had lasted only seven months by the end of 1999. For this reason, one needs to use a method for comparing the stability of the different settlement types that takes into account not only whether or not civil wars ended via different means experience a return to war but also the length of the time peace endures in each case. Such a method should also account for the possibility that periods of peace that were ongoing at the point in time we cut off our data set may still break down at some point in the future. Recent studies using this method, known alternately as survival, hazard, or event history analysis, have found that both settlement types—military victories and negotiated settlements—decrease the likelihood of a return to civil war.

A final and very practical reason for focusing on negotiated settlements of civil wars is that the bargained resolution of conflict has recently become the dominant method for bringing about an end to the fighting. As table 2 demonstrates, the majority of civil wars during the first forty-five years of the post–World War II era concluded by the process of military victory; in contrast, during the 1990s negotiated settlements have become the principal means by which civil wars end. We think it is more than mere coincidence that negotiated resolutions have become a favored method of conflict resolution since the end of the cold war. The superpowers once supported or sought to manipulate civil war adversaries for their own ends in countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, and El Salvador by providing both military aid and troops; with the end of the ideological competition between these two states they have become progressively more involved in efforts to facilitate civil war peace settlements or have stepped aside and allowed international organizations such as the United Nations to do so.

These three factors—the lower costs of ending intrastate conflicts through negotiations in comparison to military victory, the prospects for fostering an enduring peace, and the increasing prevalence of negotiation as a means of ending civil wars—form the basis for our chosen emphasis on negotiated agreements as a means of ending civil wars. This study is intended to increase and improve our knowledge concerning the substance of negotiated agreements and how the content of these agreements may facilitate a self-enforcing peace. With this knowledge in hand, the international community may be encouraged to do more to assist in ending civil wars through peaceful means as well as improve the cost-effectiveness of their efforts.

Stabilizing Peace: Institutions and the Construction of Order

Securing an end to the fighting does not, in and of itself, guarantee that a stable peace will emerge in countries that have experienced civil wars. A durable peace is characterized by more than just the absence of armed conflict. The hallmarks of a stable peace include regularized practices of conflict management and the emergence of a self-enforcing domestic order. Such practices do not, we emphasize, emerge automatically from a formal agreement on the part of adversaries to stop shooting at one another. Stable relations among formerly hostile groups are instead the product of established governing institutions that both mitigate and channel societal competition.

To consider the challenges associated with constructing a stable, postwar order in the wake of the negotiated settlement of civil wars, in this book we address three themes related to the creation of a post–civil war conflict-management system. These themes are best framed in terms of the following questions: (1) What motivates institutional choice in states emerging from civil war? (2) What role does the institution-building process play in the creation of a self-enforcing domestic order? (3) What institutional arrangements are most likely to facilitate an enduring peace among former adversaries? We offer a brief discussion of these items below in an effort to provide an outline of arguments developed more fully in later chapters.

Determinants of Institutional Choice

A core determinant of institutional choice in societies emerging from civil war through the process of negotiation is that no party to the dispute has proved itself capable of victory on the battlefield. The inability of any actor unilaterally to dictate the institutional rules associated with the postwar state encourages a predisposition to compromise given that, under these conditions, the development of postwar state structures requires the acquiescence of all relevant actors.

Civil war adversaries’ willingness to compromise, however, is very much shaped by the security concerns these groups bring to the negotiating table. These concerns, including recognition by former adversaries that despite recently killing one another “with considerable enthusiasm and success” they will have to coexist within the borders of a single state, play a central role in shaping institutional choice. As a result, groups seek to design institutions that will provide them with guarantees that the coercive power of the state will not be employed to their disadvantage once they lay down their arms and lack the capacity to provide for their own safety.

It is because no single set of antagonists is capable of imposing its will, coupled with the central importance of post-war security concerns, that negotiators are predisposed to create power-sharing and power-dividing institutions. Such institutions encourage groups to “give peace a chance” by providing them with a measure of state power that they might not enjoy in the absence of such an arrangement as well as an elevated capacity to monitor the behavior of their adversaries. In this sense, collectivities can better rest assured about their security and begin to engage in more routine interactions.

Power-sharing institutions may be constructed to share or divide power among groups along one of several dimensions of state power, notably military, political, territorial, or economic power. The intent of these institutions is to define how decisions will be made by collectivities within the postwar polity as well as to allocate decision-making rights among competing groups. By designing institutions that balance or distribute power among these groups, those responsible for crafting the settlement intend that groups will feel secure enough to settle into the routine of normal politics. Because these institutions also define the new rules of the political game, groups have a means for resolving future intergroup conflicts that does not require a resort to violence. These conflict-management rules thus provide a basis for reconstructing order following civil war.

The Institution-Building Process

The institution-building process in a postwar environment typically consists of the negotiation, creation, and implementation of power-sharing arrangements. Each of these stages has significant costs associated with it that must be endured by those engaged in the process of compromise. We argue that the costs tied to these stages of the process make the commitment to peace credible, thus laying the foundations for a self-enforcing domestic order.

The first stage consists of the decision by the parties to begin the process of negotiation toward a settlement. Group leaders run the risk of being accused by their followers, or outside actors seeking to usurp their authority, of compromising group interests by engaging in dialogue with the enemy. This stage can be particularly costly to governments that, by agreeing to negotiate with the representatives of rebel groups, transform these individuals from “criminals” or “terrorists” into credible political actors recognized by the state. Sierra Leone’s President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah endured these costs upon entering into negotiations with the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in a process that ultimately culminated in the 1999 Lomé Peace Accord. Although the majority of Sierra Leone’s population desperately sought an end to the country’s brutal civil war, many were concerned with what they saw as the legitimization of the RUF, given its notoriety for mutilating civilian victims of the war.

The second stage of this process, which consists of the design of institutions within the context of a peace agreement, generates two sets of costs for the leaders of the collectivities that sign on to a settlement. The first cost consists of recognizing the impossibility of achieving war objectives (including, in most instances, the desire to achieve dominance of the state) and the necessity of compromise with rivals. The second cost is the strong likelihood that the act of agreement will create divisions within parties to the settlement between those who prove more or less amenable to the bargains that have been reached. The peace accord agreed to by the government of the Philippines and the MNLF in 1996 is a case in point. As noted earlier, this agreement provided for a degree of autonomy for the Muslim-dominated island of Mindanao. Nevertheless, the leadership of the MNLF found itself harshly criticized and under scrutiny by its own membership and the elites of other Muslim groups who suggested that the arrangement provided little more than a façade of self-rule for the region.

The third stage on which we focus in the process of institutional construction is the implementation of the rules agreed to as part of the negotiated peace accord. The costs associated with this stage are comparable to those associated with signing a settlement—establishing limits on access to state power and enduring potential challenges from militant interests from within and outside one’s own coalition of actors—but also include having to make tough decisions about committing often scarce resources in order to implement the terms of the settlement. Foot-dragging or the failure to follow through on putting into place the institutions that have often painstakingly been agreed to can undermine a negotiated settlement by casting doubts on parties’ commitment to peace. This appears to have been a factor in the case of Angola’s 1991 Bicesse Accords. Incomplete processes of demobilization and disarmament on the parts of both the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the MPLA were followed by a return to war less than a year and a half after the negotiation of that peace settlement.

The costs associated with these three stages of the process enhance the credibility of commitments to peace. Actors demonstrating a willingness to endure the costs associated with the process of compromise have unambiguously signaled their willingness to pay a price in the interest of fostering a previously elusive stability. Such acts, or costly signals, are important indications of a credible commitment during a period of state and societal transformation in which the actions of the relevant parties are under close scrutiny for signs of cooperation or defection from the postwar arrangement.

Institutional Arrangements and the Prospects for an Enduring Peace

Neither civil wars ended through military victories nor those resolved through a process of negotiated settlement consistently facilitate a stable peace. Although at present no empirically validated explanation exists regarding why military victories are followed by an enduring peace in the case of some civil wars but not others, the institutional approach to the negotiated resolution of civil wars that we outline above provides us with an effective means of explaining why some negotiated civil war settlements prove more durable than others. We contend that the most extensively institutionalized settlements—in other words, those that call for the construction of a variety of power-sharing and power-dividing institutions across the four dimensions of state power identified above—should have the greatest potential to produce a stable peace.

What accounts for the importance of specifying a diverse array of power-sharing arrangements as part of a peace deal? Settlements that include institutions designed to cover only one or no dimensions of state power have a strong potential to leave rival parties apprehensive about how and to what ends other dimensions of state power may be used. For example, a commitment to share political power may prove insufficient to a country plagued by the problem of recurrent military coups unless it is coupled with a commitment to power-sharing within the ranks of the military. In the face of such insecurities, groups may be hesitant to commit to a lasting peace unless they feel that all avenues through which their collectivity might be threatened are addressed within the settlement.

In keeping with our earlier discussion of the importance of costly signaling and credible commitments, we also expect that agreements that produce only a small number of power-sharing and power-dividing institutions may be perceived by contending group leaders as indicating a reluctance on their rival’s part to incur the costs necessary to build an enduring peace. Settlements that design institutions along several of these dimensions of state power, on the other hand, prove more reassuring to former adversaries regarding their security and the commitment of others to peace. In short, a higher number of power-sharing arrangements reflects a greater willingness to bear heavy burdens in the interest of facilitating a mutual sense of security.

Finally, a number of states in which civil war has broken out are weakly institutionalized—a problem that is likely to be even more severe in the aftermath of civil war. Designing a number of institutions that speak to the immediate concerns of groups in the postwar environment—security and the exercise of power—can help address this problem. Not all types of institutions, it should be emphasized, will be perceived by former adversaries as effectively addressing these concerns. Groups seem most likely to commit to a set of institutions in whose design they have played a role and those they perceive to be relevant to their survival in the aftermath of war. To the extent that power-sharing and power-dividing institutions are created with the active participation of former combatants, they can help provide a foundation for building an enduring peace.

Integrating Perspectives

This book is written with two audiences in mind. One audience consists of those who have an interest in civil wars and their termination. The other is composed of readers with an interest in institutions, particularly power-sharing and power-dividing institutions. We hope to communicate to these two groups that, at least in the case of the negotiated settlement of civil wars, these two sets of issues are intertwined in significant ways. Armed conflicts emerge when the institutional means of managing conflict rupture or are under challenge. These conflicts, including the means by which they are ended, play an important role in structuring institutional choice. In turn, the institutions designed as part of a negotiated settlement of civil wars have an impact on the possibilities for managing future conflict through nonviolent processes.

Our conceptualization of the relationship among negotiated civil war settlements, the design of power-sharing institutions, and the prospects for an enduring peace builds on the efforts of international relations scholars to explain war as the product of a bargaining failure. According to this perspective, groups have an incentive to negotiate an efficient solution to conflict because war is inherently costly. The fact that actors are often unable to reach a resolution and instead engage in war is attributed to bargaining failure. Bargaining may fail and war occur if one or more of the following conditions holds. First, a bargaining failure may arise if parties to the conflict have private information and incentives for misrepresenting it to competing parties. Relevant types of information might include, for example, the actors’ preferences regarding the nature of a bargain. Second, problems of credible commitment constitute another condition under which bargaining has the potential to fail. In order for a bargain to be considered credible, it must be in the interests of all the parties that strike the bargain to stick to its terms. Finally, groups may find arriving at a bargained alternative to war impossible if the issues over which they are experiencing conflict are somehow indivisible.

The bargaining model has been applied principally to the analysis of interstate wars. Research in this area has extended to conceiving the bargaining model as covering all phases of war, with each phase considered part of the bargaining process. These phases are aptly described by Dan Reiter: “Fighting breaks out when two sides cannot reach a bargain that both prefer to war. Each side fights to improve its chances of getting a desirable settlement of the disputed issue. The war ends when the two sides strike a bargain that both prefer to continuing the war, and the outcome is literally the bargain struck. Finally, the duration of peace following the war reflects the willingness of both sides not to break the war-ending bargain.” Although some scholars have focused on the difficulty particular conditions pose for successfully negotiating settlements of civil wars, to date no one has attempted to explain how the bargaining model might apply to all phases of civil war. One important issue that has not been addressed, for example, is that contending groups within states often do strike bargains short of war that stick. How can one account for why bargaining succeeds in some cases but fails in others? How might civil war settlements be designed to overcome a variety of the conditions that produce bargaining failure? And why do some settlements produce an enduring peace and others do not? Important answers to all of these questions can be found, we argue, by focusing on domestic institutions.

In our view, civil wars break out following a challenge to or collapse of the rules for managing conflict within a state. In the absence of such functioning rules, groups find reaching a bargain short of war difficult. The conditions that can produce bargaining failure come to the fore when conflict-management institutions are absent or deficient. Negotiating a civil war settlement requires addressing these conditions. The best means of accomplishing this task is to negotiate a settlement that includes a number of power-sharing and power-dividing institutions. Institutions of this nature can be designed to address the credible commitment problem by giving each group at least some of what it wants—access to state power—as well as some of what it must have—a means of checking its rivals’ power in order to provide security for the group. By providing incentives for participation in the settlement as well as minimizing the consequences to a group of another’s defection, power-sharing and power-dividing institutions enhance the credibility of the bargain at hand. In addition, by agreeing to construct a number of these types of institutions, rival groups’ leaders are, in effect, sending costly signals. The willingness (or lack thereof) to send such costly signals communicates information to groups regarding the relevant actors’ preferences. This can help overcome the problem of private information with incentives to misrepresent. Finally, by devising these new institutions, formerly warring groups ensure that they will have a means for managing future conflicts, thereby providing an opportunity for new and more peaceful modes of interaction to emerge.

By emphasizing the role of institutions in fostering an enduring peace following civil war, this book brings together disparate categories of scholarship centering on civil war resolution, power sharing in divided societies, and armed conflict. Through this synthesis of different perspectives we provide a unique understanding of the prospects for civil war resolution and point to mechanisms of conflict management whose capacity for shaping an enduring peace typically have been left unexplored.

Plan of the Book

Building on the idea that institutions are a mechanism by which civil wars can be ended and an enduring peace facilitated, in Chapter 1 we discuss in detail four sets of institutions that are intended to share or divide power among rival groups. These institutions are constructed along the military, political, territorial, and economic dimensions of state power. We argue that these institutions, both individually and collectively, help secure peace based on their substantive and symbolic importance.

Chapters 2, 3, and 4 are structured to reflect the three phases of the settlement negotiation process—the decision to begin negotiations, the construction of institutions, and the implementation of those arrangements. In Chapter 2 we develop a statistical test intended to identify factors that affect the likelihood that opponents negotiating an end to a civil war will agree to create power-sharing and power-dividing institutions. The results suggest that, in particular, conditions that shape the perceptions of combatants as well as the international environment surrounding the state emerging from civil war play an important role in influencing the likelihood that negotiators will adopt power-sharing and power-dividing institutions.

In Chapter 3 we seek to verify that a relationship exists between the adoption of power-sharing and power-dividing institutions following civil war and the duration of peace. We find that the most consistent predictor of postwar stability is the aggregate number of power-sharing and power-dividing institutions specified in a settlement. More specifically, our results suggest that negotiated agreements requiring former adversaries to share or divide authority across as many dimensions of state power as possible have the greatest potential to foster an enduring peace.

In Chapter 4 we examine the impact that the implementation of institutions agreed to as part of a negotiated settlement has on the duration of the peace. Given its significance to post–civil war security, we focus on the implementation of military power-sharing and power-dividing institutions following a conflict. The results indicate that states in which former combatants faithfully implemented military power-sharing provisions were more likely to experience a stable peace in comparison to those countries in which parties to the settlement failed to carry out the specified arrangements.

In Chapter 5 we illustrate key concepts and supplement the statistical tests of earlier chapters by providing two case studies that focus on attempts at civil war resolution in Angola and the Philippines. Angola has experienced several efforts to negotiate a resolution to its civil war—agreements that included, variously, either no or only a nominal number of types of power-sharing or power-dividing institutions and, as a consequence, proved to be short lived. We contrast the Angolan case with the instance of the Philippines, in which all four types of power-sharing or power-dividing mechanisms were specified in the agreement and a stable peace has endured among former enemies.

In the Conclusion we review the book’s central findings concerning the role of institutions in the reconstruction of domestic order following civil war. We conclude with an emphasis on the policy implications that might be drawn from our studies for those individuals involved in the challenging process of facilitating the resolution of civil wars.

Mailing List

Subscribe to our mailing list and be notified about new titles, journals and catalogs.