The international community has been increasingly interested in the ways by which external actors help end civil conflicts. This study compares and contrasts the conflicts in Sri Lanka and Indonesia (Aceh) in order to understand why international intervention has failed in Sri Lanka but has been successful in Aceh. In Sri Lanka, the intensely fractured nature of domestic politics has been one of the most significant obstacles to successful peace talks. Although international intervention has become necessary to overcome the trust barriers between the two parties, it is seen as a threat to national sovereignty and therefore rejected. In contrast, the democratization process in Indonesia created new opportunities for peace. The political will of principal actors and their receptivity to external assistance enabled a peace agreement in 2005. The findings of this study show that both domestic political consensus and a supportive international environment, which protect the reputational concerns of the negotiating state, are necessary for resolving protracted ethnonational conflicts.
The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is one of the world’s most protracted and potentially dangerous conflicts. While the international community has strong interest in limiting violent conflagration between the two states, third party action aimed at amelioration has been very limited. This contrasts with overall global mediation efforts, which have increased in the post-Cold War period. Using archival research, this study explores the reasons for the Government of India’s implacable opposition to any external intervention in the conflict. We argue that both strategic and ideational motivations have influenced its decisions. In particular, India’s strict adherence to the principle of strategic autonomy precludes the possibility of accepting external mediation. By exploring how and why strategic and ideational motivations intersect to become a formidable barrier to third party intervention, this article contributes to our understanding of why certain countries develop resistance to mediation.