Powers of Persuasion: Incentives, Sanctions and Conditionality in Peacemaking




Griffiths, Aaron
Barnes, Catherine

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Conciliation Resources


This report is the result of a project that analyzed the use of sanctions, incentives and conditionality from the standpoint of whether they underpin or undermine peace processes (ie the formal and informal processes of dialogue and negotiation between the parties that aim to address their conflict). Used effectively, it seems that these policy tools can tip the balance towards settlement by increasing the costs of fighting and the rewards for making peace. There is often an assumption that such tools have the potential to induce parties to participate in negotiations and encourage them to reach and implement peace agreements. Yet many of the cases in this study reveal how these policy tools have been ineffective or even ‘done harm’ in exacerbating tensions and fueling conflict dynamics. Four overriding conclusions can be drawn from this study for how to enhance the effectiveness of external influence in support of peacemaking. (1) External actors need to prioritize support for sustainable peace as their primary goal in a conflict situation and craft their strategy to help achieve it – recognizing that this may, in turn, create the enabling conditions for achieving other foreign policy goals. (2) Sanctions, incentives and conditionality are most likely to be effective when they are responsive to the parties’ own motivational structures and support a pre-existing societal dynamic for conflict resolution. (3) They need to be designed and implemented in ways that help to create momentum in the resolution process, which (4) typically requires a degree of strategic coherence amongst external actors, necessitating mechanisms for coordination.