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Providing security or protecting interests?: Government interventions in violent communal conflicts in Africa
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5673-9056
2015 (English)In: Journal of Peace Research, ISSN 0022-3433, E-ISSN 1460-3578, Vol. 52, no 6, 791-805 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

What factors drive governments’ decisions to intervene in local conflicts within their borders? Communal conflict – that is, organized violence between non-state groups that are mobilized along a shared communal identity – kills thousands each year and severely impacts local livelihoods, at times threatening to spread and affect entire regions. Given the state’s assumed monopoly over the legitimate use of force, we should expect the concerned governments to be critical actors of the overall effort to restore peace in cases of local communal conflict, but empirical evidence indicates that central states tend to only intervene in some cases but not in others. This phenomenon has so far been understudied and the variations in states’ efforts to manage these conflicts remain unexplained. This article presents the first quantitative study of state intervention in communal conflicts. Building on existing scholarly work, I argue that state intervention is explained by a combination of strategic interests and state capacity, and that interests related to ethnic constituencies and land control play an important part in explaining governments’ strategies. These propositions find support in a statistical analysis covering sub-Saharan Africa from 1989 to 2010.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 52, no 6, 791-805 p.
Keyword [en]
Communal conflict, intervention, land control, non-state, non-state conflict, sub-Saharan Africa
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-265486DOI: 10.1177/0022343315597968ISI: 000364164200007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-265486DiVA: diva2:865903
Available from: 2015-10-29 Created: 2015-10-29 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Central Politics and Local Peacemaking: The Conditions for Peace after Communal Conflict
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Central Politics and Local Peacemaking: The Conditions for Peace after Communal Conflict
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Under what conditions can peace be established after violent communal conflict? This question has received limited research attention to date, despite the fact that communal conflicts kill thousands of people each year and often severely disrupt local livelihoods. This dissertation analyzes how political dynamics affect prospects for peace after communal conflict. It does so by studying the role of the central government, local state and non-state actors, and the interactions between these actors and the communal groups that are engaged in armed conflict. A particular focus is on the role of political bias, in the sense that central government actors have ties to one side in the conflict or strategic interests in the conflict issue. The central claim is that political bias shapes government strategies in the face of conflict, and influences the conflict parties’ strategic calculations and ability to overcome mistrust and engage in conflict resolution. To assess these arguments, the dissertation strategically employs different research methods to develop and test theoretical arguments in four individual essays. Two of the essays rely on novel data to undertake the first cross-national large-N studies of government intervention in communal conflict and how it affects the risk of conflict recurrence. Essay I finds that conflicts that are located in an economically important area, revolve around land and authority, or involve groups with ethnic ties to central rulers are more likely to prompt military intervention by the government. Essay II finds that ethnic ties, in turn, condition the impact that government intervention has on the risk of conflict recurrence. The other two essays are based on systematic analysis of qualitative sources, including unique and extensive interview material collected during several field trips to Kenya. Essay III finds that government bias makes it more difficult for the conflict parties to resolve their conflict through peace agreements. Essay IV finds that by engaging in governance roles otherwise associated with the state, non-state actors can become successful local peacemakers. Taken together, the essays make important contributions by developing, assessing and refining theories concerning the prospects for communal conflict resolution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Peace and Conflict Research, 2017. 48 p.
Series
Report / Department of Peace and Conflict Research, ISSN 0566-8808 ; 113
Keyword
communal conflict, local conflict, non-state conflict, land conflict, conflict resolution, mediation, conflict management, intervention, ethnic politics, political bias, governance, sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-324928 (URN)978-91-506-2650-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-10-06, Sal IX, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-09-15 Created: 2017-08-18 Last updated: 2017-09-15

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Elfversson, Emma

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