Many conflict studies regard formal democratic institutions as states’ most important vehicle to reduce deprivation-motivated armed conflict against their governments. We argue that the wider concept of good governance—the extent to which policy making and implementation benefit the population at large—is better suited to analyze deprivation-based conflict. The article shows that the risk of conflict in countries characterized by good governance drops rapidly after a conflict has ended or after independence. In countries with poor governance, this process takes much longer. Hence, improving governance is important to reduce the incidence of conflict. We also decompose the effect of good governance into what can be explained by formal democratic institutions and less formal aspects of governance, and into what comes from economic development and what is due to how well countries are governed. We find that informal aspects of good governance to be at least as important as formal institutions in preventing conflict and that good governance has a clear effect over and beyond economic development.