Negotiating with Two Hands Tied: Fragmented Decision Processes and Concessions in Civil Wars

In: International Negotiation
Brian R. Urlacher University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 58202 USA

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Theories of conflict resolution often posit unified actors as a simplifying assumption. In practice conflict actors often struggle to balance competing factions and centers of power. Schelling and Putnam have argued that factors that constrain what a negotiator can accept are a potential source of leverage in a bargaining process, yet a counter argument suggests that leaders seeking to negotiate, while facing divided government, may be less able to credibly signal their intentions. Drawing on event data from nearly 3,000 conflict-months, this paper analyzes the frequency of concessions offered by both rebels and governments. This study finds evidence that a fractured decision-process results in both rebels and governments making more concessions. Further corroboration is provided through a case study of the Philippine government’s efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict in the Mindanao region.

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