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Governance Themes Information Database Organisation Database Training and Events
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Governance dimensions of conflict prevention

This selection of key texts, which forms part of the Governance Theme pages on 'conflict', explores the role of governance in the avoidance of violent conflict, especially understanding the causes and impacts of conflict, and measures, structuring and institutions that may reduce the risk of conflict occurring.

Page contents

Causes and impacts of conflict

Governance and conflict prevention

Donor approaches and interventions

Key texts: Causes and impacts of conflict

Berdal M. and Keen D., 1997, 'Violence and Economic Agendas in Civil Wars: Some Policy Implications', Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 795-818.

This article for the Journal of International Studies analyses conflicts and peace efforts in several African, Asian and Central American countries, revealing the crucial role played by economics.
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Duffield, M. 2001, Introduction, Global Governance and the New Wars, in Duffield, M, 'Global Governance and the New Wars: the Merging of Development and Security' London: Zed Books, 2001
This first chapter of the book Global Governance and the New Wars presents a critical reflection on the incorporation of war into development discourse. The changing nature of the North-South relations and the reinterpretation of the nature of security have resulted in the emergence of a new system of global governance and the radicalisation of development. Aid policy has shifted from humanitarian relief towards conflict resolution, prevention and post-war reconstruction in such a way as to avoid future wars. Liberal peace is presented as a way to transform the dysfunctional and war-affected societies into stable entities
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Luckham, R., Ahmed, I., Muggah, R. and White, S. 2001, 'Conflict and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Assessment of the Issues and Evidence.' IDS Working Paper 128, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton.
This paper categorises the key elements of conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa into seven distinctions and examines the impact of conflict on poverty. These seven distinctions are: the scale of conflict; uneven social and geographical impact; historical variations; embeddedness of conflict in social, economic and political structures; transformations in the political economy of war; survival of the state; and the global and regional interconnectedness.
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Department for International Development 2001, The Causes of Conflict in Africa, consultation document, DFID, London.
This paper identifies the background to and causes of conflict in Africa and looks at local, regional and international responses. It examines how a stronger and more focused international effort is required for sustainable peace and sets out a comprehensive framework for conflict prevention.
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Stewart, F. 2000, 'The root causes of humanitarian emergencies', in Nafzigfer et al (eds.) War, Hunger and Displacement, Vol.1, chpt 1.
Interstate wars are not common today, but complex humanitarian emergencies (CHE) still cause death, suffering and prolonged underdevelopment. What are the root causes of CHEs? This introductory chapter to a book from the United Nations University / Oxford University Press presents an overview of the causes and policy implications of CHEs.
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Cliffe, L. and Luckham, R. 1999 'Complex political emergencies and the state: failure and the fate of the state,' Third World Quaterly, vol.20, no.1, pp27-50.
This paper provides an analytical framework to explore the different origins, shapes, and outcomes of CPEs, with a strong focus on the characteristics of the state before, during and after a conflict. The report seeks to draw practical lessons from CPEs all around the world, with special reference to Africa, where most post cold-war conflicts have, and are still, occurring.
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Keen, D. 1997, 'A rational kind of madness,' Oxford Development Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, International Development Centre, Oxford.
This paper looks into pre-modern history to explain the seemingly senseless nature of war and violence. It is revealed that in history wars have not always been fought for the purposes of winning them. Rather, the goal has been material profit. The economic dimension of warfare has been central for decisions as to whether to start a war or end it. This is argued also in relation to contemporary conflicts. The cases of the civil wars in Sudan and Sierra Leone are considered within this framework.
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Allen, C. 1999, 'Warfare, endemic violence and state collapse in Africa,' Review of African Political Economy, vol. 26, no.81.
A Review of African Political Economy paper outlines a theory to explain one 'category' of violence in Africa that has similar origins, character and dynamic: the violence that occurs with the decline of a 'spoils' politics system and state collapse. Most countries in post-independence Africa implemented reforms that lead to a centralised, bureaucratic state that could contain the potentially harmful politics of patronage. Others did not implement these reforms, or these reforms failed, and a 'spoils' politics system resulted.
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Kaldor, M. and Luckham, R. 2001, 'Global transformations and new conflicts', IDS Bulletin, 32(2), pp. 48-59.
This article from the Institute of Development Studies reviews the characteristics and legacies of post-Cold War conflicts, and the steps for building democratic peace. Although moulded by common global processes, each conflict has its own distinct characteristics.
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Key texts: Governance and conflict prevention

Hutchful, E., 2003, Pulling Back from the Brink. Ghana's Experience, in Governing Insecurity, Democratic Control of Military and Security Establishments in Transitional Democracies, Cawthra, G. and Luckham, R. (eds), Zed Books, London.
How did Ghana pull itself back from the brink of conflict? What lessons about conflict transformation may be learned from this experience? In answering these questions this chapter from the book Governing Insecurity provides a detailed understanding of the character of the Ghanaian crisis, which sheds light on current conflict prevention policy frameworks.
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Debiel, T., Fischer, M., Matthies, V. and Ropers, N. 1999, 'Effective Crisis Prevention: Challenges for German Foriegn and Development Policy' Development and Peace Foundation.
This policy paper claims that despite the obvious advantages of preventive conflict management, the reactive approach to crises and conflicts still predominates in the world of states. As demonstrated by the Kosovo/Yugoslavia war, traditional measures for crisis prevention have been proven to be limited in their effectiveness. The reactive- curative approach to crises and conflicts has been proven to be inhumane, politically ineffective and costly. Yet, no proper use has so far been made of more up-to-date instruments of crisis prevention and there is still a gap between early warning and early action.
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Stewart, F. 1999, Crisis Prevention: Tackling Horizontal Inequalities, Working Paper no. 33, QEH, University of Oxford.
This working paper identifies how introducing crisis- prevention into economic and social policy-making would alter the normal design of policy for low-income countries as well as other development problems. The paper (1) gives some general analysis of conflicts; (2) explains the concept of horizontal inequalities, as a key element in understanding and preventing conflicts; and (3) provides an overview of the policy recommendations that emerge from the analysis.
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Department for International Development 2000, Conflict Reduction and Humanitarian Assistance, DFID, London.
Violent conflicts disrupt economic and social interaction, displace populations, destroy vital infrastructure, and divide societies. They tend to be intra- rather than inter-national and often take place in the poorest countries, where people's civil or human rights are denied. The chief victims are civilians. The reduction of violence conflict is thus a precondition to poverty reduction and development.
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Cliffe, L. and Luckham, R. 2000 'What Happens to the State in Conflict?: Political Analysis as a Tool for Planning Humanitarian Assistance,' Disasters, vol. 24 (4), pp291-313, Overseas Development Institute, 2000.
This article uses information derived from the COPE programme to illustrate how policy and practice benefit from an awareness of political context. It does so by considering how the problematisation of the state generates violent conflict; how this reshapes or destroys society; the legacies of these conflicts; and suggests a strategic approach is required to peace-building.
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Key texts: Donor approaches and interventions

Sharma, A. and Cutter, A. G. 2000, 'Crisis Prevention and Development Cooperation' Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
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Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 2002, ' Helping Prevent Violent Conflict' OECD.
Conflict prevention is central to poverty and sustainable development. Enduring peace rests on fundamental principles of democracy; human security; respect for the rule of law and human rights; gender equality; good governance; social and economic development in the context of sustainable development; and open and fair market economies. Helping developing countries to achieve these goals is not easy. How can the international community improve its work on conflict prevention to address these challenges? The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) guidelines provide ways for donor governments to honour their commitment to conflict prevention as an integral part of the quest to reduce poverty.
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