Get access

Information, Agreement Design, and the Durability of Civil War Settlements


  • The order in which the authors' names appear was determined alphabetically and does not reflect any degree of hierarchy in terms of theoretical or methodological contributions to the project. A previous version of this article was presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the International Studies Association, San Francisco. We thank Jennifer Laks, Mingyan Li, Mariana Rodriguez, and Qing (Maria) Yang for research assistance and Chuck Gochman, Ashley Leeds, three anonymous reviewers, and the editor for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Michaela Mattes is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University, VU Station B #351817, Nashville, TN 37235-1817 ( Burcu Savun is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh, 4600 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 (


Civil war is usually examined from the perspective of commitment problems. This approach provides considerable insight regarding which civil war agreement provisions reduce the chance of renewed fighting. Yet, additional insight can be gained by examining information asymmetries as a potential cause of civil war recurrence. We argue that significant uncertainty regarding military capabilities may persist after fighting ends and that this uncertainty may lead to the breakdown of peace. However, carefully designed peace agreements can guard against renewed civil war by calling for international monitoring, making the belligerents submit military information to third parties, and providing for verification of this information. Our empirical analysis of 51 civil war settlements between 1945 and 2005 shows that these provisions significantly reduce the risk of new civil war. Encouraging the adoption of these provisions may be a useful policy in the international community's effort to establish peace in civil-war-torn societies.

Get access to the full text of this article