Interstate Agreements to End Intrastate Conflict  

Dr Kathryn Nash is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP). She completed her PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Her research focuses on norms, the role of regions in the international community, and peace and security issues. 

From Syria to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), conflicts within states are drawing in outside actors and having impacts far beyond the geographic confines of the conflict, and this then often necessitates dealing with the overlapping national and international conflict related interests through multi-level peace processes.  The PA-X Report on Interstate Agreements to End Intrastate Conflict looks at how agreements between states can be used to resolve conflict within a state.  Specifically it asks when, where, how and why are these agreements used, and are they effective is addressing all elements of intrastate conflict?

The report finds that interstate agreements are used to address internationalized aspects of an internal conflict when outside states support parties to the conflict; to make commitments about how they will collaborate to resolve a conflict; to address wider disputes or past enmities that are encapsulated in an internal conflict; or simply to contain a conflict out of self-interest. Often the motivations of outside states to formally sign an intrastate peace agreement are overlapping.  For instance, in Cambodia, outside actors were engaged in the conflict by supporting various parties to the conflict.  As such, it was vital for the peace process to not only resolve conflict issues between groups within Cambodia but between the major powers that supported opposing sides.  Additionally, in order to fully implement a peace agreement in Cambodia, significant outside assistance was needed, so outside states and international organizations made commitments in the agreement about how they would support resolving the conflict.

Overall, the role of interstate agreements in forging peace is important to understand as increasingly conflict is multi-level and requires multi-level peace processes to address it, and this report provides a primer of interstate agreements and processes that have been used to resolve internal conflicts.  It is part of an emerging research agenda for the Political Settlements Programme, in which we will examine local-level processes to address conflict below the state as well as processes that bring in bilateral, multilateral, regional, and international actors to address conflict between and within states.

Download PA-X Report.