Ending Civil Wars: A Case for Rebel Victory?

The subject of effective civil war termination is important for three reasons. First, with regard to theory, the “give war a chance” argument forces scholars and policymakers to confront how they should think about the costs and consequences of war. If one measures the collective good in terms of a lasting peace, a systematic and general reduction in the destructiveness of war, and robust development, then, all else held equal, the “give war a chance” argument must be taken seriously. Second, civil wars are highly destructive. Yet they have traditionally been less subject to regulation and limitation by treaties such as the Hague and Geneva Conventions than have interstate wars. Until 1977, when the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 protecting “national liberation movements” came into force—governments were not restricted in the amount or nature of force they could use to defeat rebels. Moreover, many civil wars escalate to interstate wars, either by spilling across state borders or by provoking external intervention. Third, policymakers exert considerable effort to fnding ways to advance democratic institutions and rehabilitate the economy once a war has ended. Therefore, knowing which postwar environments are most likely to flourish as democratic polities with liberal market conditions and which are more likely to succumb to authoritarianism, corruption, or the resumption of war is crucial.

Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil War

Timely and pathbreaking, Securing the Peace is the first book to explore the complete spectrum of civil war terminations, including negotiated settlements, military victories by governments and rebels, and stalemates and ceasefires. Examining the outcomes of all civil war terminations since 1940, Monica Toft develops a general theory of postwar stability, showing how third-party guarantees may not be the best option. She demonstrates that thorough security-sector reform plays a critical role in establishing peace over the long term. Much of the thinking in this area has centered on third parties presiding over the maintenance of negotiated settlements, but the problem with this focus is that fewer than a quarter of recent civil wars have ended this way. Furthermore, these settlements have been precarious, often resulting in a recurrence of war. Toft finds that military victory, especially victory by rebels, lends itself to a more durable peace. She argues for the importance of the security sector–the police and military–and explains that victories are more stable when governments can maintain order. Toft presents statistical evaluations and in-depth case studies that include El Salvador, Sudan, and Uganda to reveal that where the security sector remains robust, stability and democracy are likely to follow. An original and thoughtful reassessment of civil war terminations, Securing the Peace will interest all those concerned about resolving our world’s most pressing conflicts.