Costs and Cover: Explaining the Onset of Ceasefires in Civil Conflict

Journal article

Clayton, Govinda; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård; Siri Aas Rustad & Håvard Strand (2022) Costs and Cover: Explaining the Onset of Ceasefires in Civil Conflict, Journal of Conflict Resolution. DOI: 10.1177/00220027221129195.

Read the article here (Open Access)

Ceasefires are common in civil conflict. Yet we have surprisingly little comparative analysis of why and under what conditions they occur. A ceasefire provides temporary relief from the costs of conflict, but also generates its own costs. Building on this logic, we argue that conflict parties are more likely to accept the costs associated with a ceasefire when the conflict costs are greater, in particular, when: violence is intense; there are higher levels of ‘collateral damage’; and the parties lack international support. Second, we contend that ceasefires are also more likely in those periods in which the audience costs associated with entering into an arrangement are lower, specifically, when the parties have some form of ‘political cover’, such as during mediation. We find support for both arguments in an analysis of a new dataset capturing all ceasefire in civil conflict from 1989-2020, using a series of dyad fixed effect models.

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