Changing horses in midstream: Leadership changes and the civil war peace process

Kirssa Cline Ryckman, Jessica Maves Braithwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We examine the impact of governmental leadership changes on the civil war peace process. In line with the literature on leadership changes and interstate war, we argue that transitions can help overcome lags in the rational updating process, leading to negotiations and termination through negotiated settlements. However, while studies of interstate relations emphasize the role of “outsider” changes that produce new winning coalitions, we argue that owing to the critical nature of credible commitment problems within the civil war peace process, only “insider” changes can generate the benefits of leadership change while mitigating uncertainty generated by leadership turnover. Using existing and original data on changes in governmental leadership, we find support for our expectations. Leadership changes can produce conditions favorable to negotiations and settlements, but only changes from inside the existing regime should be encouraged to avoid prolonging the conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-105
Number of pages23
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Civil war
  • leadership transition
  • negotiations
  • peace process
  • settlements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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