26 April 2012

Peace & Conflict 2012

Peace and Conflict is the flagship publication of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland. Its purpose is to make current academic research on conflict, democratization, terrorism, and international development more accessible and interpretable for people in the policy community and especially for an academic audience that wants to better understand how such research informs policy discussions.

This publication continues coverage of several topics that appeared in earlier volumes: the Peace and Conflict Instability Ledger, trends in global conflict, the spread of democracy, and trends in global terrorism. A chapter presenting country risks of genocide has now been added to the set of features in recognition of the importance of tracking this important topic regularly. Finally, the volume includes five chapters on a special theme: “Preventing Armed Violence: From Peacemaking to Conflict Recovery.”

 "[M]ovements of historic proportions are sweeping parts of the Middle East and North Africa, with potentially far-ranging consequences for the region and indeed for the entire international system. Only in Tunisia and Egypt have there been clear-cut political changes, whereas the outcomes of the violent events in Libya, Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen are still undetermined. Other countries in the region, like Jordan and Morocco, have experienced public protests, but neither the protests nor the government responses have escalated or led to substantial political changes."

 "Regimes with a mix of democratic and autocratic features are inherently more unstable than governments that are consistently autocratic or democratic. Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen have a potentially volatile mix of autocracy with some democratic trappings. Neighborhood (in)security is another risk factor. Armed conflict and, by extension, massive popular protest in any one country increase conflict risks in adjacent countries—a process that, given modern communication systems, has rapid effects not fully captured in our current model. These diffusion effects, beginning with events in Tunisia, appear to have been at play in catalyzing recent events in the region."

 "Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Iran have national identities that are stronger than regional or sectarian ones—and the protestors demand power at the center. Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and most other states in the region —including Iraq—are new, arbitrarily bounded countries in which clan and religious identities are strongest, thus making them more prone to sectarian violence and fragmentation. One implication is that public protests in the “old countries” can be resolved by opening up their political systems, as is happening in Tunisia and Egypt. Or in Syria, as in Iran, they may be contained by violent repression rather than changing the political systems. In Libya and Yemen, however, public protests are more likely to escalate into civil wars and are likely to end in negotiated regional autonomy or stalemate, rather than resolution to a more open political system."

 "Recent developments have prompted widespread speculation about the likelihood that autocracies in the region will give way to democracy. Frantz points out in Chapter 4 “Trends in Democratization” that the region’s political systems differ from one another in important ways. At the most basic level, classifying these countries according to whether they are autocratic or anocratic (hybrid democracies and autocracies) can shed light on the likelihood that stable democracy will emerge. For example, Frantz shows that anocratic interludes are more likely to pave the way for the consolidation of democracy than autocratic ones. This historical record suggests that Tunisia and Egypt, both with mixed systems prior to mass protests, have a greater likelihood of transitioning to stable democracies than do autocracies like Libya, Yemen, and Syria." 

You can read the full Executive Summary HERE.