How Does International Intervention Work? A Mechanism for Securing Peace Settlements in Civil Conflicts
36 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2017 Last revised: 14 Jul 2018
Date Written: October 20, 2017
There is emerging consensus that international intervention can secure peace by helping combatants resolve commitment problems following civil wars. But how do interveners accomplish this? Conventional wisdom suggests that intervention primarily works through force. We theorize instead that interveners commonly condition political, economic, and legal incentives on compliance with peace processes. Despite a rich literature on intervention, little effort has been made to systematically test the underlying mechanisms. This paper takes a first step toward this end, using United Nations peacekeeping data from 1989-2012. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we show that military coercion is not frequently employed. Moreover, peacekeeping that employs conditional incentives is consistently correlated with a reduced risk of conflict recurrence, even when controlling for potential selection effects, and regardless of whether peacekeepers are also authorized to use force. These findings have important implications for international efforts to secure peace in civil conflicts worldwide.
Keywords: Civil conflict, intrastate war, peace agreement, settlement, international intervention, peacekeeping, United Nations
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