Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Huelshoff, Michael; Frank, Richard

Second Advisor

Lewis, Daniel


This dissertation investigates how actors without the means of state power can affect the behavior of warring parties in order to end civil conflicts. Drawing on the intervention and mediation literature, I propose a theoretical framework that presents causal mechanisms for various forms of non-state conflict management to contribute to conflict resolution. The research distinguishes between direct mediation, capacity-building, and problem-solving approaches, and analyzes the approaches’ potential contributions to shorter wars and more sustainable peace.

On the one hand, non-state actors can be substitutes for governmental or inter-governmental mediators. They derive legitimacy from long-standing relations with the conflict parties, and their claims to neutrality are more believable than those of powerful states with strong national interests. Further, a confidential and deliberate process can lead to more stable agreements. On the other hand, NGOs and others can prepare or enhance ongoing high-level negotiations by giving parties the tools they need to engage with each other constructively, and by improving attitudes and changing perceptions.

The data collected for this dissertation allows me to test hypotheses for the sample of African internal conflicts (1990-2010) with econometric means. Results confirm that non-state conflict management is a significant precursor to high-level mediation. I find further that conflict dyads that experience non-state conflict management in one year are significantly more likely to end in the following year. Unofficial diplomacy is significantly related to lower conflict severity, as well as to a more stable post-conflict peace.

The findings challenge the common assumption that governments are the only actors in international relations that matter. In fact, non-state actors make important contributions to conflict resolution, and conflict parties as well as governmental mediators should consider cooperating with them in their search for peace.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.