Pre-negotiation is widely accepted as a means to convince intrastate conflict parties to negotiate formally; however, research has not yet established a causal link between early efforts to bring warring parties together and the outcome of any negotiated settlement. This gap begs the question: To what extent do activities during the pre-negotiation phase contribute to the signing of a peace agreement? Theory on interstate conflict suggests that pre-negotiation reduces risk, thereby convincing conflict parties that they have more to gain from negotiating than from fighting. However, in conflicts between governments and non-state armed actors, this article argues that reciprocity paves the way for reaching peace agreements. This article introduces a new dataset on pre-negotiation including nearly all intrastate armed conflicts between 2005 and 2015. Confirming previous findings, mediation is significantly and positively correlated with reaching a type of peace agreement; conflicts over government are more likely to end in a negotiated agreement than conflicts over territory or both government and territory. In contrast to existing qualitative research, this study finds little evidence that pre-negotiation increases the likelihood that conflict dyads sign peace agreements. Future quantitative research on this topic requires more nuanced measures of the conditions under which conflict parties shift from unilateral to joint decisionmaking.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.