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CONTEMPORARY VIOLENT CONFLICT S Mansoob Murshed Institute of Social Studies, the Netherlands and the University of Birmingham, UK

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Presentation on theme: "CONTEMPORARY VIOLENT CONFLICT S Mansoob Murshed Institute of Social Studies, the Netherlands and the University of Birmingham, UK"— Presentation transcript:

1 CONTEMPORARY VIOLENT CONFLICT S Mansoob Murshed Institute of Social Studies, the Netherlands and the University of Birmingham, UK

2 Slide 1: Types of internal violence against/by the state Genocide: is a systematic attempt to physically eliminate a particular ethnic, religious or linguistic group. They may be correlated to significant income inequalities between groups. Secessionist Wars: refer to areas struggling to separate from the centre, usually containing sons of the soil dynamics. These wars have the longest duration on an average. Revolutions: attempts to overthrow the state by armed force. They can be sub-divided into coups d'etat: short duration Rebellions against the state, for example the Maoist insurgency in Nepal, Colombia, Peru. Internationalised Conflict: when neighbouring countries or other external powers are involved.

3 Slide 2: The Duration of Civil Wars The number of countries embroiled in a civil war increased up to 1994, and has since declined (Hegre, 2004). But the average duration of civil wars, standing at 16 years in 1999, does not exhibit a downward trend (Fearon, 2004). The number of fatalities in civil war may be declining recently, but the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons is rising.

4 Slide 3: Causes of Civil War Cold war and super-power rivalry. Are civil wars rational? Cannot really be, as negotiated settlements are superior. Bounded versus universal rationality. Pre-meditated acts. Rational Choice: Civil wars over natural resources or collective grievance. 4

5 Slide 4: Civil wars over natural resources or collective grievance Collier and Hoeffler: Greed (opportunities) disguised as grievance (constraints). Stewart: Horizontal inequality. Ethnicity: powerful organising principle for collective action. Resolves collective action problems.

6 Slide 5: Grievance and horizontal inequality o Discrimination in Public Spending and Taxation. o Discrimination in the allocation of public spending o Discrimination in the allocation of public employment o over taxation of smallholders encourages insurrection o discrimination in access to schooling, health care, and public-sector jobs. o Where there are inter-group fiscal transfers, commitment to the transfer by those in power may be imperfect. This lack of credibility of the transfer can eventually lead to civil war. 6

7 Slide 6: Grievance (2) High Asset Inequality. Agrarian societies with high income inequality—for example El Salvador, Guatemala, Nepal, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe—have high asset inequality, and are very prone to conflict. Asset redistribution such as land reform to lessen inequality is more difficult than public finance reform. 7

8 Slide 7: Grievance (3) Economic Mismanagement and Recession. Economic mismanagement is often associated with an uneven and unfair distribution of the burdens of subsequent adjustment. 8

9 Slide 8: Greed: Natural Resource Wars Collier and Hoeffler (2004) find empirical evidence that a relatively high dependence on primary commodity exports is associated with conflict. This finding is not robust as a cause of civil war, see Ross (2004). Natural resources constitute 'booty' and this has been used to emphasise the greed motivation for civil war. Lootable, obstructable mineral resources are not the initial cause of the start of civil wars, but once started these wars tend to persist for a long time, as the rents from these help to finance war are a source of profit.

10 Slide 9: Saliency of the typology of the Economy Point Source Economies: these refer mainly to mineral exporting economies. Included are coffee/cocoa and crops that lead to the production of illegal substances such as heroin and cocaine. Such commodities are closely linked to civil war, as some are readily lootable (alluvial diamonds, drugs say) or obstructable (oil pipelines for example). Oil, in particular, is found to cause civil war, and lootable commodities are found to help perpetuate civil war (Ross, 2004). 10

11 Slide 10: Typology of the economy (2) Diffuse Economies: these countries principally export agricultural commodities other than those enumerated above. According to Ross (2004) these economies are not systematically linked to civil war, but despite this there are many examples of diffuse economies in civil war, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Rwanda. Manufacturing Economies: these countries export mainly manufactured goods. These economies have enjoyed the best economic growth rates since 1980, as well as having some of the best institutions in the developing world.

12 Slide 11: Although the greed versus grievance debate may be a useful entry point for debate. The origin of the conflict is immaterial if there are viable dispute settling and resource sharing mechanisms.

13 Slide 12: Call it the Social Contract Viable dispute settlement mechanisms. Viable sharing mechanisms Perceptions of fairness Institutional functioning Colonial legacies Institutions degenerate Or are they deliberately undermined to facilitate kleptocracy. State failure 13

14 Slide 13: Summary on Causes greed and grievance are inextricably intertwined; no matter which comes first the other is sure to follow. Cross-sectional versus country case studies Cross-sectional econometric studies yield different results depending on model specification, data- type, country coverage. But one thing that is always robustly present is that low per-capita always significantly adds to the risk of conflict. Country-case studies find that grievance or horizontal inequality is more important, by looking at gaps in (human) development across communities and regions.

15 Slide 14: Summary of causes (2) Low per-capita income explains risk of conflict best, because it is a proxy for institutional failure. Only a risk and not certainty. Conflict requires triggers Internal External Conflict-Poverty nexus, Collier et.al (2003) Poverty adds to risk of conflict Conflict perpetuates poverty Democracy and Conflict (Hegre et. Al.) Both autocracies and democracies have a low conflict risk Transitions between one form to another are associated with high conflict risk 15

16 Slide 15: Why are peace treaties so difficult to sustain? Most civil wars lead to outside powers trying to broker peace. 1. Incentive to renege on a peace deal due to short time horizons Impatience to consume High discount rates for the future 2. Indivisibilities.

17 Slide 16: Peace is not easy to achieve A peace agreement is robust if it is self enforcing, when sides believe that the post-war pie that they expect is greater than the value of continued fighting. The value of compromise declines with indivisibilities, and also in the presence of spoilers with a more pessimistic view of peace. 17


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