Selling Out or Standing Firm? Explaining the Design of Civil War Peace Agreements

Deniz Cil, Alyssa K. Prorok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When do rebel leaders "sell out" their constituents in the terms of peace by signing agreements that benefit group elites over the rebel constituency, and when do they instead "stand firm," pushing for settlement terms that benefit the public they claim to represent? This article examines variation in the design of civil war settlement agreements. It argues that constituents, fighters, and rebel elites have different preferences over the terms of peace, and that rebel leaders will push for settlements that reflect the preferences of whichever audience they are most reliant on and accountable to. In particular, leaders of groups that are more civilian-reliant for their military and political power are more likely to sign agreements that favor broad benefits for civilian constituents, while leaders who do not depend on civilian support for their political and military power will sign agreements with fewer public benefits. We test this argument using original data on the design of all final peace agreements reached between 1989 and 2009, and several proxies for the group's level of reliance on civilian supporters. Using a variety of statistical tests and accounting for nonrandom selection into peace agreements, we find strong support for our hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-342
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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