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Dismantling the Conflict Trap: Essays on Civil War Resolution and Relapse
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Countries that have experienced civil war suffer a greater risk for new conflict than countries with no prior history of civil war. This empirical finding has been called a conflict trap where the legacy of previous war - unsolved issues, indecisive outcomes, and destruction – leads to renewed fighting. Yet, countries like Cambodia, El Salvador, Indonesia, and Mozambique have managed to overcome decade-long conflicts without relapse. This dissertation addresses this empirical puzzle by seeking to dismantle the conflict trap and look at microlevel explanations for civil war resolution and relapse. It adds to existing scholarship in three ways: first, by using disaggregated empirics on war termination and how fighting resumes; second, by exploring government agency in conflict processes; and third, by disaggregating rebel organizations. Essay I present original data on the start and end dates and means of termination for all armed conflicts, 1946-2005. Contrary to previous work, this data reveal that wars does not always end through victory or peace agreement, but commonly end under unclear circumstances. Essay II addresses how developments exogenous to the conflict influence governments’ decision to engage in a peace process. The results show that after natural disasters when state resources need to be allocated towards disaster relief, governments are more willing to negotiate and conclude ceasefires with insurgents. Essay III focuses on the post-conflict society, and posits that security concerns among former war participants will push them towards remobilizing into rebellion. The findings indicate that if ex-belligerent elite’s security is compromised, the parties of the previous war will resume fighting, while insecurity among former rank-and-file leads to the formation of violent splinter rebel groups. Finally, Essay IV seeks to explain why governments sometimes launch offensives on former rebels in post-conflict countries. The results show that internal power struggles provide leaders with incentives to use force against domestic third parties to strengthen their position against intra-government rivals. Taken together, this dissertation demonstrates that there is analytical leverage to be had by disaggregating the processes of violence in civil war and post-conflict societies, as well as the actors involved – both the government and rebel sides.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Peace and Conflict Research , 2012. , p. 49
Series
Report / Department of Peace and Conflict Research, ISSN 0566-8808 ; 96
Keywords [en]
civil war, conflict resolution, conflict recurrence, diversionary war, ripe moment, natural resources, peace agreement, victory, war termination
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-172231ISBN: 978-91-506-2284-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-172231DiVA, id: diva2:513648
Public defence
2012-05-25, sal IV, Universitetshuset, S:t Olofsgatan/ Öfre Slottsgatan,, Uppsala, 10:43 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-05-03 Created: 2012-04-03 Last updated: 2014-11-05Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. How and when armed conflicts end: Introducing the UCDP Conflict Termination dataset
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How and when armed conflicts end: Introducing the UCDP Conflict Termination dataset
2010 (English)In: Journal of Peace Research, ISSN 0022-3433, E-ISSN 1460-3578, Vol. 47, no 2, p. 243-250Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article presents new data on the start and end dates and the means of termination for armed conflicts, 1946-2005. These data contribute to quantitative research on conflict resolution and recurrence in three important respects: the data cover both interstate and intrastate armed conflicts, the data cover low-intensity conflicts, and the data provide information on a broad range of termination outcomes. In order to disaggregate the UCDP-PRIO Armed Conflict dataset into multiple analytical units, this dataset introduces the concept of conflict episodes, defined as years of continuous use of armed force in a conflict. Using these data, general trends and patterns are presented, showing that conflicts do not exclusively end with decisive outcomes such as victory or peace agreement but more often under unclear circumstances where fighting simply ceases. This pattern is consistent across different types of conflict, as is the finding that victories are more common in conflicts with short duration. The article then examines some factors that have been found to predict civil war recurrence and explores whether using the new dataset produces similar results. This exercise offers a number of interesting new insights and finds that the determinants for civil war recurrence identified in previous research are sensitive to alternate formulations of conflict termination data. The findings suggest that intrastate conflicts are less likely to recur after government victories or after the deployment of peacekeepers. If the previous conflict is fought with rebels aiming for total control over government or if the belligerents mobilized along ethnic lines, the risk of recurrence increases. The discrepancy in findings with previous research indicates the need for further study of conflict resolution and recurrence, for which this dataset will be useful.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Sage Publications, 2010
Keywords
civil war duration, new dataset, peace agreement, victory, war termination
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-137562 (URN)10.1177/0022343309353108 (DOI)000274532700011 ()
Available from: 2010-12-15 Created: 2010-12-15 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
2. From Tremors to Talks: Do Natural Disasters Produce Ripe Moments for Resolving Separatist Conflicts?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From Tremors to Talks: Do Natural Disasters Produce Ripe Moments for Resolving Separatist Conflicts?
2012 (English)In: International Interactions, ISSN 0305-0629, E-ISSN 1547-7444, Vol. 38, no 4, p. 482-502Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper suggests that natural disasters can produce a ripe moment for conflict resolution because governments faced with the demand for effective disaster relief have incentives to offer concessions to separatist challengers. An analysis of the prevalence of new negotiations, ceasefires, and peace agreements during 12-month periods prior to and post natural disasters for separatist dyads 1990-2004 reveal some support for this proposition. Natural disasters increase the likelihood that parties will initiate talks or agree to ceasefires but have less effect on the signing of peace agreements. In line with the proposed mechanism, these results are particularly strong in democracies and following more severe disasters where the need to provide relief is most acute.   

National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-172225 (URN)10.1080/03050629.2012.697404 (DOI)000307930600007 ()
Available from: 2012-04-03 Created: 2012-04-03 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
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