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Why Peace Fails

The Causes and Prevention of Civil War Recurrence

Charles T. Call

Publication Year: 2012

Why does peace fail? More precisely, why do some countries that show every sign of having successfully emerged from civil war fall once again into armed conflict? What explains why peace "sticks" after some wars but not others?

In this illuminating study, Charles T. Call examines the factors behind fifteen cases of civil war recurrence in Africa, Asia, the Caucasus, and Latin America. He argues that widely touted explanations of civil war -- such as poverty, conflict over natural resources, and weak states -- are far less important than political exclusion. Call's study shows that inclusion of former opponents in postwar governance plays a decisive role in sustained peace.

Why Peace Fails ultimately suggests that the international community should resist the temptation to prematurely withdraw resources and peacekeepers after a transition from war. Instead, international actors must remain fully engaged with postwar elected governments, ensuring that they make room for former enemies.

Published by: Georgetown University Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-ix

List of Tables

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pp. x-x

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pp. xi-xii

This book was long in the making, and I am grateful for the support of many institutions and individuals in that process. I was honored to receive a senior fellowship at the US Institute of Peace in 2008–9 for this project, then titled “Making Peace Stick.” My fellowship at the Institute was rewarding not just for...

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Introduction: The Tragedy of Civil War Recurrence

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pp. 1-22

Why does peace, once it is widely seen as consolidated, fail? Consider the tragic experience of Liberia. In 1996 a cease-fire between rebel factions and an embattled government ended a bloody war that had taken 200,000 lives and displaced most of the country during the previous seven years. With the election of a new president in 1997 and the cessation of combat, the war was deemed...

Part I. Why Peace Fails: Theory

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pp. 23-24

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1. What Do We Know about Why Peace Fails?

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pp. 25-49

What do we know about why peace fails? Most relevant for answering this question are two key literatures that overlap: that on civil wars, and that on peacebuilding. The former addresses the causes and character of civil wars: why they occur, why they end, what makes them persist, what consequences they have, and so on. Part of this analysis involves the roles of external actors, but the...

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2. Is Civil War Recurrence Distinct from Its Onset? A Quantitative Analysis and the Limits Thereof

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pp. 50-68

One of the first questions to arise in this inquiry concerned the character of civil war recurrence. Is the phenomenon of recurrence any different from that of onset? If not, then it would make more sense not to pursue an inquiry into recurrence at all but to draw on the more numerous and better- trodden ground of...

Part II. Examining the Cases

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pp. 69-70

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3. Liberia: Exclusion and Civil War Recurrence

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pp. 71-95

In August 1997, aft er winning by a landslide 75 percent in a relatively free and fair election, Charles Taylor was inaugurated as Liberia’s president. His election marked the culmination of a peace process ending a seven- year war that had killed roughly 150,000, displaced 40 percent of the population, and sparked a deadly war in Sierra Leone and instability in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea.1 The...

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4. Separatist Recurrences of Civil War

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pp. 96-121

The previous chapter used a full-fledged case study to examine Liberia’s recurrence of civil war aft er an apparently successful UN peace operation. These types of cases share other characteristics that do not necessarily hold for other postconflict societies. Not only did they experience renewed UN peacekeeping operations aft er apparent peacebuilding success but they also all experienced sustained

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5. Nonseparatist Recurrences of Civil War

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pp. 122-161

The previous chapter addressed armed conflicts of a separatist nature. Such armed conflicts share certain characteristics and are generally considered more difficult to resolve via negotiated settlement and in a sustainable fashion (Wood 2003). Separatist conflicts mobilize support around identity and its relation to territory. Consequently, territorial powersharing, including substantial...

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6. Recurrences That Defy the Argument

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pp. 162-182

No single argument or factor can plausibly lay claim to playing the crucial causal role in recurrences of internal armed conflict. Despite my making a strong case for decisions by a state that render it exclusionary and insufficiently legitimate, exclusion is neither sufficient nor necessary for war recurrence. Of the fifteen core cases of recurrence, four cases do not support the role of exclusionary...

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7. Making Peace Stick: Inclusionary Politics and Twenty- Seven Nonrecurrent Civil Wars

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pp. 183-210

Having examined cases of recurrence, what do cases of successful peacebuilding tell us? Is inclusionary behavior in some way associated with persistent peace? In turning to the cases of nonrecurrence, we will see that they off er more robust findings, ones that inspire some hope. Recall that peace is defined here narrowly as “negative peace” and that all cases of nonrecurrence refer to...

Part III. Implications for Theory and Practice

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pp. 211-212

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8. Conclusions for Theory: Legitimacy-Focused Peacebuilding

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pp. 213-235

Having examined the pool of the clearest cases of both successful and failed postwar peacebuilding, what can one say about the implications of these findings for the theory of civil wars and their recurrence, and for theories of postconflict peacebuilding? This chapter revisits the initial analysis of what scholars have found about the causes of civil wars and of consolidated postconflict peace. It...

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9. Conclusions for Policy and Practice: Can External Actors Build Legitimacy after War?

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pp. 236-276

Past experience indicates that the enterprise of consolidating peace fails in a high percentage of cases, oft en within the first few years of a cease- fire. Transforming states and their relationships with societies is even more challenging, and the role of external actors is complex and fraught with risks. The previous chapter explains how postwar inclusion of elites is tied to theoretical...


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pp. 277-302


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pp. 303-315

E-ISBN-13: 9781589018952
E-ISBN-10: 1589018958
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589018945
Print-ISBN-10: 158901894X

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 12 tables
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 787843347
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Why Peace Fails

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Peace -- Political aspects.
  • War -- Causes
  • Peace-building.
  • War -- Causes -- Case studies.
  • Peace-building -- Case studies.
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