Beyond reassurance: the reputational effect of cultural reforms in peace agreements

Giuditta Fontana, Ilaria Masiero

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We explore whether including cultural reforms in an intra-state peace accord facilitates its success. We distinguish between accommodationist and integrationist cultural provisions and employ a mixed research method combining negative binomial regression on a data set of all intra-state political agreements concluded between 1989 and 2017, and an in-depth analysis of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement for Northern Ireland. We recognize the important reassuring effect of accommodationist cultural reforms in separatist conflicts. However, we also find that they have an important and hitherto overlooked reputational effect across all conflict types. By enhancing the reputation of negotiating leaders, accommodationist cultural provisions contribute to ending violence by preventing leadership challenges, rebel fragmentation and remobilization across all civil conflicts. By the same logic, and despite the overwhelming emphasis of peace agreements on integrationist cultural initiatives, integrationist cultural reforms problematize leaders' ability to commit to pacts and to ensure compliance among their rank and file.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGovernment and Opposition
Early online date14 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2022


  • Northern Ireland
  • conflict management
  • cultural reform
  • mixed methods
  • peace agreements


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