Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2009

Civil War Outcomes

Roy Licklider

November 2009

Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies


This paper attempts to summarize the rapidly expanding literature on civil war outcomes, organizing it around three central questions, all of which remain under debate: (1) what are civil wars, (2) how do we know when they end, and (3) what can outsiders do to help end them and prevent their recurrence? It focuses on the normative and ethical issues involved in negotiated settlements to civil wars: do they reduce violence or not, do they encourage democracy or not, the conflict between amnesty and justice which they often raise, and, if they are seen as desirable, when are they likely to occur and how, if at all, can outsiders support them.