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Making and Keeping Peace

  • Suzanne Werner (a1) and Amy Yuen (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2005

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 apparent.We would like to thank Virginia Page Fortna, Dani Reiter, Nicholas Sambanis, and the anonymous reviewers and editors of International Organization for their many suggestions and insightful comments on previous versions of this article.

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International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
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