Skip to main content

Making and Keeping Peace

  • Suzanne Werner (a1) and Amy Yuen (a2)

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.

Hide All


Arnold, Guy. 1991. Wars in the Third World Since 1945. London: Cassell.
Clarke, Kevin A. 2001. Testing Nonnested Models of International Relations: Reevaluating Realism. American Journal of Political Science 45 (3):72444.
Fearon, James. 1995. Rationalist Explanations for War. International Organization 49 (3):379414.
Fearon, James. 1998. Commitment Problems and the Spread of Ethnic Conflict. In The International Spread of Ethnic Conflict: Fear, Diffusion and Escalation, edited by David Lake and Donald Rothchild, 10726. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Filson, Darren, and Suzanne Werner. 2002. A Bargaining Model of War and Peace: Anticipating the Onset, Duration, and Outcome of War. American Journal of Political Science 46 (4):81937.
Filson, Darren, and Suzanne Werner. 2004. Bargaining and Fighting: The Impact of Regime Type on War Onset, Duration, and Outcomes. American Journal of Political Science 48 (2):296313.
Fortna, Virginia Page. 2003. Scraps of Paper? Agreements and the Durability of Peace. International Organization 57 (2):33772.
Fortna, Virginia Page. 2004. Peace Time: Cease-Fire Agreements and the Durability of Peace. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Hartzell, Caroline, and Matthew Hoddie. 2003. Institutionalizing Peace: Power Sharing and Post–Civil War Conflict Management. American Journal of Political Science 47 (2):31832.
Hartzell, Caroline, Matthew Hoddie, and Donald Rothchild. 2001. Stabilizing the Peace After Civil War: An Investigation of Some Key Variables. International Organization 55 (1):183208.
Hosmer, David W., Jr., and Stanley Lemeshow. 1999. Applied Survival Analysis: Regression Modeling of Time to Event Data. New York: John Wiley.
Luttwak, Edward. 1999. Give War a Chance. Foreign Affairs 78 (4):3644.
Pillar, Paul. 1983. Negotiating Peace: War Termination as a Bargaining Process. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Posen, Barry. 1993. The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict. In Ethnic Conflict and International Security, edited by Michael E. Brown, 10324. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Powell, Robert. 2002. Bargaining Theory and International Conflict. Annual Review of Political Science 5:130.
Powell, Robert. 2004. Bargaining and Learning While Fighting. American Journal of Political Science 48 (2):34461.
Reed, William. 2003. Information, Power, and War. American Political Science Review 97 (4):63341.
Slantchev, Branislav L. 2003. The Principle of Convergence in Wartime Negotiations. American Political Science Review 97 (4):62132.
Smith, Alastair, and Allan C. Stam III 2004a. Mediation and Peacekeeping in a Random Walk Model of Civil and Interstate War. In Dissolving Boundaries, edited by Suzanne Werner, David Davis, and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, 11536. New York: Blackwell.
Smith, Alastair, and Allan C. Stam III 2004b. Bargaining and the Nature of War. Journal of Conflict Resolution 48 (6):783813.
Toft, Monica Duffy. 2002/03. Indivisible Territory, Geographic Concentration and Ethnic War. Security Studies 12 (2):82119.
Wagner, R. Harrison. 2000. Bargaining and War. American Journal of Political Science 44 (3):46984.
Walter, Barbara. 1997. The Critical Barrier to Civil War Settlement. International Organization 51 (3):33564.
Werner, Suzanne. 1999. The Precarious Nature of Peace: Resolving the Issues, Enforcing the Settlement, and Renegotiating the Terms. American Journal of Political Science 43 (3):91234.
Wilkenfeld, Jonathan, and Michael Brecher. 1984. International Crises, 1945–1975: The UN Dimension. International Studies Quarterly 28 (1):4567.
Wittman, Donald. 2001. War or Peace? Paper presented at the Political Economy of Conflict Conference, March, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 230 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 643 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.