Hurting Stalemate: Intractable Conflict and the Colombian Peace Process



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This thesis examines the relationship between a military balance of power and negotiation tactics in civil conflicts. Focusing on the Colombian peace process, this thesis analyzes negotiations between the government and the FARC rebels, comparing the failed negotiations that took place from 1999 to 2002 with the successful ones from 2012 to 2016 that resulted in an agreement.

By analyzing primary source documents, I investigate the extent to which the failed set of talks resulted from a balance of military power that favored the FARC rebels. I then discuss Colombian military successes that weakened the FARC between 2002 and 2010 to show how the government held a military advantage by the end of this period. Yet, the FARC remained resilient and the government had difficulty winning hearts and minds of rural Colombians. By analyzing the negotiations from 2012 to 2016, I assess the extent to which this relative power parity impacted the negotiation tactics of each side. Understanding if there is a relationship between balance of military power and negotiation tactics can provide insights for resolving other intrastate conflicts that have destabilizing effects beyond a country’s borders.





Labaton, Max (2019). Hurting Stalemate: Intractable Conflict and the Colombian Peace Process. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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