Central Politics and Local Peacemaking : The Conditions for Peace after Communal Conflict
Abstract: 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.
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