This article examines how leaders affect the implementation of peace agreements. It argues that implementation is more likely when leaders have publicly committed to peace because public commitments tie leaders’ hands, making it costly to back down from peaceful promises. This effect is hypothesized to hold even under conditions that make implementation costly: when implementing difficult provisions, when spoiler risk is high, and when implementation is unreciprocated. These expectations are tested using novel data from the IPAD dataset on the implementation of peace agreements between 1989 and 2014 and on public statements by state and rebel leaders. Results show that governments and rebel groups whose leaders have publicly committed to peace are significantly more likely to make progress toward implementation. This effect holds for difficult provisions, when spoiler risk is high, and when implementation is unreciprocated. These findings highlight the importance of leaders’ political will for successful implementation of peace agreements and sustainable peace.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.