States often experience disagreements such as competing territorial claims. Sometimes they attempt to address these differences by negotiating explicit, written settlements. Can these agreements help ensure a durable peace? I examine the effect of agreements that attempt to address differences after significant conflict has occurred, such as peace agreements, as well as agreements designed to manage competing claims before they reach the level of violence. I refer to these two sets of agreements together as 'conciliatory agreements'.
Using the theoretical framework of the bargaining model of war, I argue that the provisions specified in conciliatory agreements make the existing peaceful equilibrium more robust against the potentially disruptive effect of environmental shocks, such as changes in relative capabilities or regime type. Furthermore, I argue that conciliatory agreements not only increase the likelihood that peace is maintained but also impact the kind of peace maintained. Specifically, competing states that experience disruptive changes may remain at peace either because they continue to accept the status quo or because they peacefully renegotiate a new settlement. I argue that varying agreement provisions can account for why, when conditions change, some states resort to force, while others peacefully renegotiate, and still others maintain their original agreement.
In order to evaluate my propositions, I rely on an existing list of territorial claims from the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe between 1919 and 1995, provided by Huth and Allee's (2002) research. For each of these cases, I collect all conciliatory agreements between the claimants and use these to test my theoretical expectations about the impact of agreement provisions on the durability of peace and the occurrence of renegotiation.