Research Statement for Dynamics & Management of Ethnic Conflict:
Ethno-political conflict is one of the most persistent forms of conflict in contemporary world politics. It often has dire consequences for local, national, regional, and global security. The study of the inception, evolution, and regulation of such conflict is therefore imperative.
A team of EXCEPS experts are engaging in multidisciplinary research to unravel the dynamics of confrontation and accommodation in different cases of ethno-political conflict in the Middle East, Europe, the Caucasus, Africa and South East Asia. Through focused comparative analysis, we seek to generate comprehensive conclusions of academic and political relevance.
We are particularly concerned with ethno-political mobilization; radicalization; the role of elites, state institutions and external parties; impact of ethnicity and ethno-national identity, and the effects of secession, autonomy and electoral design on ethnic relations; and processes of conflict regulation and post-conflict recovery in ethno-political conflict.
Foreign Intervention in Ethnic and Ethno-National Conflicts
(Headed by Mary-Alice Clancy and Annemarie Peen Rodt)
Although it is debatable whether or not the Cold War’s end led to an increase in ethnic and ethno-national conflicts throughout the globe, the collapse of the bipolar system has granted states a greater ability to overtly intervene in – or ignore – such conflicts. Regarding armed intervention, the mixed record of both unilateral and multilateral intervention into ethnic and ethno-national conflicts underscores both the differences between ‘peacekeeping’ and ‘peacemaking’, and the moral hazards that such interventions can create. In terms of ‘peacebuilding’, inasmuch as ‘bottom up’ approaches are the normative preference of most scholars and practitioners of ethnic and ethno-national conflict management, recent relative ‘successes’ (e.g. Northern Ireland) and seeming future failures (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina) both highlight the importance of exogenous actors in facilitating, upholding and/or eviscerating power-sharing settlements. Moreover, the recent history of relatively successful settlements like Northern Ireland’s Belfast/Good Friday Agreement call for a fundamental reassessment of the role of foreign actors in the negotiation and implementation of such settlements, the importance of ‘hard’ versus ‘soft’ power and the utility of unconditional dialogue when negotiating with violent non-state actors.
The aim of this project is to re-examine and assess the role of foreign actors in the intervention and management of ethnic and ethno-national conflicts.
Regional security organizations and the regulation of violent ethno-political conflict
(Headed by Klejda Mulaj and Annemarie Peen Rodt)
It is a foregone conclusion nowadays that violent ethno-political conflicts worldwide need urgent attention, but the international community is struggling to cope. Indeed, demand far outweighs supply in international conflict regulation. The UN is overstretched and after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan countries are increasingly reluctant to intervene bilaterally. But are regional actors stepping up to the challenge? Organizations such as the European Union and the African Union are rapidly developing conflict regulation capabilities, whilst regional actors elsewhere in the world strive for similar capabilities. This project seeks to take a closer look at regional security organizations and their emerging role in the international security arena. It will debate the purpose of conflict regulation and assess whether regional security organizations could (and should) help regulate violent ethno-political conflict in the 21st century, sometimes even beyond their own geographical boundaries. The project aims to investigate the role of regional security organizations in the prevention, management and settlement of violent ethno-political conflicts worldwide. It will consider the variety of tools that different regional security organizations have at their disposal and the possibility and desirability of a future division of labour in international conflict regulation. Challenges faced by regional security organizations as well as prospects for maximizing their security provisions are central to this investigation.
State-Building, Intervention, and Legitimation
(Headed by Klejda Mulaj)
One persistent question which has challenged foundational principles of the international society of states in the past two decades is that of international intervention in the wake of large-scale conflict and violations of human rights of civilians with a view to stop suffering and create conducive conditions for enduring peace. The end of the Cold War ushered in a new interventionism featuring interventions in Kuwait, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq by a coalition of states and/or international organizations with the aim of peacekeeping and peace-enforcement – and lately, increasingly, with the aim of state-building.
Although publications on statebuilding have expanded significantly, one issue that has not been sufficiently explored in the existing literature is that of legitimation, processes through which legitimacy – real or perceived – of intervening missions with the aim of statebuilding has been achieved, re-achieved, or withdrawn, as well as permutations of such processes. This project seeks to contribute to the existing literature by grappling with the questions: How might legitimacy of statebuilding be achieved, even if provisionally and incomplete? How might legitimacy of statebuilding projects be evaluated, and what forms critiques of such legitimacy might take?