The Intervention of “Neighbor” Countries in Civil War Peace Negotiations

AuthorAbdelgabar Abdelrahman,SungYong Lee
Published date01 June 2016
Date01 June 2016
C R Q, vol. 33, no. 4, Summer 2016 355
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the Association for Confl ict Resolution
Published online in Wiley Online Library ( • DOI: 10.1002/crq.21160
The Intervention of “Neighbor” Countries
in Civil War Peace Negotiations
SungYong Lee
Abdelgabar Abdelrahman
is article examines the intervention behavior of small- or medium-
sized neighbor countries in civil war peace negotiations by examining
ailand in the Cambodian peace process and Chad in the negotiations
over Darfur, Sudan.  e motivations lying behind these neighbors’ ini-
tial interventions were their concerns over two issues: the spillover eff ect
of the external confl icts and their limited leverage over the confl icts
and peace processes. While both countries changed their intervention
strategies, aiming to play more constructive roles, the consequences of
the changed strategies were signifi cantly limited by how their new dip-
lomatic strategies were supported and utilized by external mediators.
The roles of small- or medium-sized neighbors in civil war peace pro-
cesses have been largely marginalized in mainstream academic dis-
cussions, and neighbors are frequently assumed to be “destined to play a
background role” in third-party intervention due to their limited sources
of negotiation leverage (e.g., military forces, economic resources, legitimate
power, and diplomatic networks; Barakat 2014, 4; see also Ingebritsen, Neu-
mann, and Gstöhl 2012). Hence, many fundamental questions regarding
the mediation behavior of these neighbor countries are left barely explored,
some of which include: Why do many neighbor countries in civil war peace
negotiations tend to become radical in their third-party intervention? What
determines their intervention strategies and how eff ective are they?
Nevertheless, over previous decades, many peace processes that under-
value the infl uence of neighbors’ intervention have faced formidable chal-
lenges. Although their role as negotiation facilitators might not be as
C R Q • DOI: 10.1002/crq
signifi cant as that of power states or international organizations, such small
neighbors’ proactive but biased interventions have frequently had a criti-
cal impact on the progress of peace negotiations in civil confl icts. A few
examples include the roles of  ailand in Cambodia (1985–91), Venezuela
in El Salvador (1989–93), Algeria in Western Sahara (1989–2011), DR
Congo in Burundi (1993–2000), Burkina Faso in Mali (2012), and Chad
in Darfur, Sudan (2003–14). Hence, in order to promote more successful
confl ict resolutions in civil confl icts, the intervention of neighbor countries
should be more thoroughly comprehended.
Considering the gap in the literature, this study aims to be one of the
rst studies to explain the motivations and strategic behavior of neighbor
states, by examining the intervention strategies employed by  ailand in
the Cambodian civil war and Chad in the confl icts over Darfur, Sudan. It
particularly highlights three aspects of neighbor states’ behavior that may
have a critical impact on the development of a peace process: the moti-
vations that determine neighbor countries’ strategic positions, their early
intervention strategy, and the process of moderating or deradicalizing their
At the same time, this study will address a gap in the literature by
providing rare empirical evidence for further theoretical development
regarding various motivations, forms, and strategies of small states’ diplo-
macy. As for the academic discourse on small state diplomacy, this article
will present how small states’ security concerns can outweigh the external
actors’ diplomatic pressure. Considering contemporary studies on small
state mediation, this study will reveal the intervention behavior that the
conventional studies have not explored while limiting their analysis to the
motivation and intervention methods of neutral extra-regional mediators.
e peace processes in Cambodia and Darfur were selected since these
are suitable cases to present how a small-sized neighbor country’s diplo-
matic strategies evolve in contemporary multiparty peace mediations. First,
the two peace processes occurred in highly dissimilar geopolitical, social,
and cultural contexts, as well as under dissimilar conditions for mediation.
Whereas the Cambodian confl ict was an elite power struggle that occurred
in a homogenous Asian society in terms of ethnicity, religion, and cul-
ture, the confl icts over Darfur refl ect tensions between diff erent ethnic and
religious groups in an African country. Moreover, while the Cambodian
peace process (1987–91) was undertaken under strong ideological rivalry
during the Cold War, the Darfur peace negotiations (2003–present) were
relatively free from the infl uence of global power politics.

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