Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Demilitarizing Politics: Elections on the Uncertain Road to Peace

Terrence Lyons
Demilitarizing Politics: Elections on the Uncertain Road to Peace
ISBN: 978-1-58826-393-3
ISBN: 978-1-58826-967-6
2005/232 pages/LC: 2005018516
Also of interest:  Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: Causes and Consequences by Stephanie M. Burchard

"Lyons captures the complex and often contradictory dynamics of elections in the wake of civil war peace agreements in his well-designed, thoroughly researched, and coherently argued book.... [Demilitarizing Politics] deserves the attention of scholars and policymakers alike."—Timothy D. Sisk, Perspectives on Politics

"A unique and important contribution.... Demilitarizing Politics offers meaningful theoretical insights and a wealth of information concerning conflict resolution processes."—Matthew Hoddie, International Studies Review

"Terrence Lyons cuts through the reams of policy advice on how to end civil wars successfully with a simple, elegant strategy about what must be done before elections in a peacebuilding process. This is the most important contribution to the topic in a decade."—Susan L. Woodward, City University of New York


With the increasing use of elections as a tool for peacebuilding after civil war, the question of why some postconflict elections succeed and others fail is a crucial one. Tackling this question, Terrence Lyons finds the answer in the internal political dynamics that occur between the cease-fire and the voting.

Lyons shows that the promise of elections can provide the incentive for the demilitarization of politics—-he transformation of institutions made powerful by war into those capable of sustaining peace—so that warring parties will in fact choose to change their strategies and adapt to peaceful electoral competition. It is this process of demilitarization that is in turn key to meaningful elections; elections alone, as has been seen repeatedly, are not enough to advance the dual goals of peace and democracy.

Incorporating evidence from a range of recent cases, Demilitarizing Politics offers a concrete strategy for peaceful change that can be implemented, and that can make a difference.


Terrence Lyons is professor in the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. He is author of Voting for Peace: Postconflict Elections in Liberia and coeditor of African Foreign Policies: Power and Process.


  • Demilitarizing Politics and Building Peace.
  • The Institutions of War.
  • The Legacy of Fear and Voting for Peace.
  • Building New Political Institutions.
  • Demobilization and Security Sector Reform.
  • Sustaining Peace and Democracy.
  • Encouraging the Demilitarization of Politics.