Past research has found that third party pressure makes the signing of a ceasefire more likely, but also more likely to break down. What explains this variation? I argue that third party pressure is more likely to lead to a durable ceasefire if pressure is applied to persuade the conflict parties to continue to negotiate and produce a detailed ceasefire document, whereas pressure solely aimed at making the conflict parties sign a ceasefire document undermines the durability of the ceasefire. A comparison of four ceasefires concluded in Sudan supports this argument. Third party pressure that led to the Nuba Mountains Ceasefire and the Agreement on Security Arrangements helped move the negotiations on security arrangements forward. By contrast, the N’Djamena Ceasefire Agreement and the Darfur Peace Agreement were imposed on the parties without regard for political and technical aspects of the ceasefire. This explains why violence soon resumed.
Previous quantitative mediation research has relied on generalized measurements of “mediation success,” such as agreements, ceasefires or peace durability. However, these measurements of success do not take into account what mediators were mandated to achieve. We propose benchmarking outcomes against the explicit mandates of the interventions, a novel way of conceptualizing mediation success. Utilizing data on the agendas of mediated negotiations in intrastate armed conflicts in Africa between 1990 and 2010 as a proxy for mediation mandates, we examine the relative effectiveness of manipulation as a mediation strategy. The study shows, in contrast to previous research, that third party manipulation does not have a significant effect on whether the goal of a given round of negotiations is achieved and, that under some circumstances, may decrease the likelihood of mediation success. We discuss the opportunities as well as limitations of a mandate-based approach to the study of mediation success.