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Bargaining in intrastate conflicts: The shifting role of ceasefires

It is widely known that conflict parties engage in ceasefires for a variety of reasons, but how do these reasons relate to the military and political aspirations of conflict party leaders?

Valerie Sticher and Siniša Vuković
17 May 2021
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Building on bargaining theory, the authors argue that the strategic goal of conflict party leaders shifts over the course of a conflict, from creating a military advantage, to strengthening the negotiation position, to increasing the chances of conflict settlement. Leaders use ceasefires – alongside other bargaining instruments – in pursuit of any of these three goals. A comparison of violence and ceasefire patterns in six contemporary peace processes and a congruence test conducted on the 2012–16 peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerilla organization FARC offer support for the theoretical framework. The findings highlight the important, and shifting, role ceasefires play in the transition from war to negotiated peace.

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