Government and International Relations Honors Papers

Document Type

Honors Paper


Ryan Phillips

Publication Date



Why do some ceasefires last for days, while others last for months or years? Previous research on ceasefires has not directly considered the question of ceasefire durability, or has focused solely on the dynamics of ceasefire durability in interstate war. In order to address these knowledge gaps, this study explores the question of ceasefire durability in the context of ethnic civil wars. It is hypothesized that ceasefire durability is related to belligerents’ territorial satisfaction, relative power, and actor cohesion. Analyzing two ceasefires from the Bosnian civil war, the study finds that durability is a function of the interaction between territorial satisfaction and the presence of a mutually hurting stalemate. This interaction produces four types of ceasefires: (a) durable, with high satisfaction and a mutually hurting stalemate; (b) variable, with high satisfaction and no mutually hurting stalemate; (c) dependent, with low satisfaction and a mutually hurting stalemate; and (d) weak, with low satisfaction and no mutually hurting stalemate. This typology helps to clarify policy and timing choices for military officials, humanitarian organizations, and peace negotiators.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.