Interstate Agreements to End Intrastate Conflicts

Nash, K. (2019). Interstate Agreements to End Intrastate Conflicts (PA-X Report). Edinburgh: Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh.

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Interstate peace agreements are widely used to resolve international conflicts between states. However, interstate agreements are used even more frequently to resolve violent conflict within states (intrastate conflict). The role of interstate agreements in ending intrastate conflict has received little attention but, increasingly, intrastate conflicts require multi-level peace processes capable of dealing with overlapping national and international conflict-related interests. This PA-X report examines interstate agreements that have been used to resolve internal conflict using a global dataset (PA-X Peace Agreement Database).

In particular we:

  • consider in general terms why states external to that in which a conflict arises, sign agreements with each other relating to a conflict taking place within the borders of
    a third state, and why understanding this phenomenon is important to understanding peace process design;
  • examine why, when, where and how states sign international agreements relating to intrastate conflict not within their borders, using global data;
  • explore further the dynamics of how interstate agreements have been used in this
    way in particular contexts, drawing on different regionally-situated examples of Liberia, Cambodia and Israel-Palestine.

Findings:

Interstate agreements are an important tool in resolving intrastate conflict and can be used to address:

  • the termination of outside state support to parties to the conflict;
  • third party state commitments to collaborate with each other to support resolution of the conflict, including documenting agreement reached between the parties through robust forms of internationalised mediation;
  • wider interstate disputes or past enmities that are implicated in what has ended up as an intrastate conflict;
  • or simply to contain an intrastate conflict out of self-interest in terms of stability, for example because of influxes of people or movement of military actors are affecting neighbouring or regional states, or international peace itself.

Interstate agreements also offer:

  • creative ways of ‘legalising’ agreements;
  • ways of framing peace processes within international normative frameworks to include an emphasis on democracy, human rights, or other norms as key to any transition.