The Peaceful Settlement of Interstate Conflict: Saar, Austria, and Berlin

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Schwarzer, Gudrun (1998) The Peaceful Settlement of Interstate Conflict: Saar, Austria, and Berlin , Journal of Peace Research 35(6): 743–757.

An integrative process model of conflict settlement is developed and compared in the cases of three conflicts. The basic idea is that conflict settlement should be understood as a process unfolding in two steps, each of which needs to be explained. The first step is 'getting to the table' (negotiation), the second step is 'getting to yes' (agreement). Different conditions must be satisfied for the opponents to take these two essential steps of conflict settlement. Serious negotiations are causally linked to the emergence of a mixed-motives situation, and agreement is dependent on cost-benefit calculations that favor cooperation over self-help. A set of hypotheses drawn from the literature on conflict management is developed into an integrative model of conflict settlement. The model is integrative in that it offers a rationale for considering together hypotheses which are usually discussed separately. The model is applied to three conflicts which have all a territorial component and have all finally been settled in a peaceful way. The conflicts show a similar pattern of conflict management and conflict settlement. The analysis reveals that the successful settlement of conflict in the three cases was due mainly to three factors: a hurting stalemate in the issue-area, a crisis of the security situation of one conflict party, and time pressure. By acting together, these factors brought about conflict-settling agreements which had not been possible before.