Recent efforts to explain why some peace agreements last while others
fail have focused on the strength of the agreement itself. Maintaining
peace, even if both belligerents want peace, can be difficult if there are
temptations to defect or there are reasons to fear that one may be played
for the sucker. Strong agreements that can increase the costs of
defection, enhance monitoring, or reward cooperation help to solve this
enforcement dilemma and generally increase the former belligerents'
incentives to remain at peace. Although we agree that such carrots and
sticks can facilitate cooperation, we argue in this article that such
measures will often be inadequate if the belligerents themselves are no
longer committed to keeping the peace. If the belligerents believe that a
renewed war can lead to better terms, peace will be precarious. We
demonstrate that getting (and keeping) the terms right may be more
important than any carrots and sticks incorporated into the document to
enforce those terms. In particular, we show that “unnatural”
ceasefires that come about as a consequence of third-party pressure are
significantly more likely to fail. We also show that ceasefires negotiated
after wars with consistent battle outcomes are more likely to last than
those where the “right” terms of settlement are less
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