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PhD defence

Ceasefires as Bargaining Instruments in Intrastate Conflicts: Ceasefire Objectives and Their Effects on Peace Negotiations

  • V. Sticher
Tuesday 11 May 2021
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Ceasefires are common in armed conflicts between state and non-state actorsBut some ceasefires create space or momentum for peace negotiations, while others stall progress in negotiations or are simply disregarded. This dissertation systematizes our understanding of these dynamics, by assessing the strategic role of ceasefires from the perspective of conflict parties. It uses a multi-method research design to investigate when and why conflict party leaders use what types of ceasefire arrangement as part of their larger military or political approach to the conflict. The theoretical and empirical findings show how ceasefires are not the opposite of fighting – managing a ceasefire is much more challenging than fighting, as ceasefires are declared in advance and create opportunities for spoiling behavior. As a result, their impact is more nuanced and multifaceted. Much like fighting, ceasefires can affect the relative strength of conflict parties and may fuel hatred if violated in letter or in spirit. They may provide information about the relative strength of conflict parties, including information that is difficult to convey through fighting alone. Finally, ceasefires can fulfill functions that fighting undermines, such as demonstrating commitment to a political solution and creating space for a peace narrative to take hold. Appropriate third party engagement helps parties make ceasefires more resilient to non-strategic violations, but imposed ceasefires may undermine progress towards a peace agreement.


  • Prof. M.O. Hosli
  • Dr. S. Vukovic

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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