Belfer Center Home > Publications > Books and Book Chapters > Books > Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars

EmailEmail   PrintPrint Bookmark and Share

<em>Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars</em>

Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars

Book, Princeton University Press

October 2009

Author: Monica Duffy Toft, Former Associate Professor of Public Policy; Former Board Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Former Director, Initiative on Religion and International Affairs.

Ordering Information for this publication

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Religion in International Affairs



Much of the thinking in this area has centered on third parties presiding over the maintenance of negotiated settlements, but the problem with this focus is that fewer than a quarter of recent civil wars have ended this way. Furthermore, these settlements have been precarious, often resulting in a recurrence of war. Toft finds that military victory, esepcially victory by rebels, lends itself to a more durable peace. She argues for the importance of the security sector—the police and military—and explains that victories are more stable when governments can maintain order. Toft presents statistical evaluations and in-depth case studies that include El Salvador, Sudan, and Uganda to reveal that where the security sector remains robust, stability and democracy are likely to follow.

An original and thoughtful reassessment of civil war terminations, Securing the Peace will interest all those concerned about resolving our world's most pressing conflicts.

Timely and pathbreaking, Securing the Peace is the first book to explore the complete spectrum of civil war terminations, including negotiated settlements, military victories by governments and rebels, and stalemates and ceasefires. Examining the outcomes of all civil war terminations since 1940, Monica Toft develops a general theory of postwar stability, showing how third-party guarantees may not be the best option. She demonstrates that thorough security-sector reform plays a critical role in establishing peace over the long term.


Read Chapter 1 here:


"Using comprehensive data on internal conflicts, Toft challenges the flawed assumptions driving international peacemaking diplomacy and peacekeeping operations, which sadly may be prolonging civil wars instead of ending them. This provocative and politically incorrect book ought to stimulate a long-needed debate over the efficacy of current approaches to ending conflicts."—Andrew Natsios, Georgetown University

"This well-researched book makes an incredibly important contribution to our understanding of civil war termination and recurrence. While we have known for some time that military victory leads to more decisive and lasting cessations of violence, it was not clear why. Toft addresses these questions and persuasively demonstrates that the key to long-lasting peace lies in the reform of the security sector."—Stephen Saideman, McGill University

"An impressive book, Securing the Peace breaks new ground in the important area of civil war settlements. Toft reaches new and counterintuitive conclusions based on the analysis of quantitative data and case studies, and brings us forward in our understanding of this critical issue."—Roy Licklider, Rutgers University


For more information about this publication please contact the ISP Program Coordinator at 617-496-1981.

For Academic Citation:

Toft, Monica Duffy. Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, October 2009.

Document Length: 244 pp.

Bookmark and Share

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.