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The (In)compatibility of Peace and Justice? The International Criminal Court and Civil Conflict Termination


Does the International Criminal Court's (ICC) pursuit of justice facilitate peace or prolong conflict? This paper addresses the “peace versus justice” debate by examining the ICC's impact on civil conflict termination. Active ICC involvement in a conflict increases the threat of punishment for rebel and state leaders, which, under certain conditions, generates incentives for these leaders to continue the conflict as a way to avoid capture, transfer to the Hague, and prosecution. The impact of ICC involvement is conditional upon the threat of domestic punishment that leaders face; as the risk of domestic punishment increases, the conflict-prolonging effects of ICC involvement diminish. I test these theoretical expectations on a data set of all civil conflict dyads from 2002 to 2013. Findings support the hypothesized relationship. Even after addressing potential selection and endogeneity concerns, I find that active involvement by the ICC significantly decreases the likelihood of conflict termination when the threat of domestic punishment is relatively low.

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