Peace and Violence after Conflict

Kohama, Shoko, Foreign Affairs - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Legro, Jeffrey W., Department of Politics, University of Virginia

This dissertation investigates why certain post-conflict peace between states last longer than others. Many ceasefires break down within a few years, which suggests that despite tremendous costs, violence has been a surprisingly ineffective means of solving international disputes. To identify a fundamental barrier to achieving post-conflict peace and suggest the role of a third party in removing the barrier, this study explores why and under what conditions rational adversaries deviate from a once mutually agreed ceasefire and fail to peacefully renegotiate the initial settlement when revisionist wishes arise.

Analyzing conflict termination, renegotiation, and conflict resumption as a single process, the game-theoretic model demonstrates that uncertainty regarding the degree to which resources acquired during conflict empower the gaining party determines the stability of post-conflict peace. This is because the divergence between the ex-ante expectation and ex-post realization of the gainer's post-conflict power growth provokes a revisionist and opportunistic incentive for the loser. Specifically, conflict resumes when the gainer fails to fully exploit the resources because such temporal stagnation in resource usage incentivizes the loser to behave opportunistically. The disturbing effect of uncertainty, that is the loser’s opportunistic motivation, is amplified, ceteris paribus, if the gainer obtains a greater amount of resources during war and if the gainer is a wealthy democracy and obtains resources that reward investments, such as colonies. The statistical analysis of ceasefires between 1946 and 1997 and the case study on the Sino-Vietnamese conflict confirm these arguments.

This study suggests that a third party, whether it is purely peace motivated, biased, greedy, diplomacy reliant, or military reliant, will not undermine peace as long as it intervenes before a ceasefire agreement is reached and behaves in a way that is consistent with the initial agreement. Moreover, given that settlement is achieved, a purely peace-motivated third-party must not attempt to tie the gainer's hands for post-conflict extraction of resources, but rather, it should help the gainer utilize resources when it turns out that her power growth is less than expected.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Conflict management, International relations
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