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External engagement: Explaining the spread of electoral participation provisions in civil conflict settlements

Abstract

©The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association. All rights reserved. When do settlements to civil conflict bring former combatants into normal politics as political parties? Prior work shows that electoral-participation provisions in settlements correlate with enduring peace; such provisions help end some of the longest and deadliest civil conflicts. But they are not always included in negotiated settlements. This article presents original data showing that no settlements included electoral-participation provisions until the end of the Cold War. Since then, they appear in almost half of all settlements. What explains this pattern? I argue that combatants include electoral-participation provisions to engage international actors; through these provisions, international actors can often enforce negotiated deals by monitoring and providing incentives conditioned on combatant compliance. This helps to overcome commitment problems that often prevent peaceful settlements of civil conflicts. An analysis of data on civil conflicts and settlements since 1975, as well as illustrative case evidence, provides support this argument.

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