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Ethnic Conflict: Causes, Consequences, and Responses

ISBN: 978-0-7456-3931-4
304 pages
January 2010, Polity
Ethnic Conflict: Causes, Consequences, and Responses (0745639313) cover image


Why does ethnic conflict remain one of the major security challenges in today’s world? Can we avoid another Rwanda in the future? How was it possible, after almost four decades, to achieve a lasting settlement for the conflict in Northern Ireland, while the conflict in Kashmir remains unresolved after more than sixty years?

These and other questions are the focus of this book. Investigating the causes and consequences of ethnic conflict, the authors argue that the most effective responses are those that take into account factors at the local, state, regional and global level and which avoid seeking simplistic explanations and solutions to what is a truly complex phenomenon. What matters most for understanding ethnic conflicts are the choices that people make—leaders and followers alike—and not a set of mysterious unknowable forces.

Once we know that ethnic conflicts are not difficult to understand, but that there is a lot to understand about them, we can also appreciate that they are not impossible to resolve. However, it takes skilful, committed and principled leaders to achieve just solutions that are supported by their followers, and it takes the long-term commitment of the international community to enable and sustain these solutions.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi

1 Introduction 1

2 The Study of Ethnic Conflict 4

Part 1 The Causes and Consequences of Ethnic Conflict 23

3 Theories of Ethnic Conflict 25

4 Motive, Means and Opportunity: A Framework for Understanding the Cause of Ethnic Conflict 44

Part II Responses to Ethnic Conflict

5 The Prevention, Management and Settlement of Ethnic Conflicts 79

6 International Intervention 100

7 Conflict Settlement in Theory and Practice 138

8 'Alternatives' to Consensual Conflict Settlement 171

9 Conclusion 193

Notes 197

References 209

Index 225

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Author Information

Karl Cordell is Reader in Politics at the University of Plymouth

Stefan Wolff is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for International Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution at the University of Nottingham

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The Wiley Advantage

• A book which covers a major topic in IR and Security Studies that is taught widely internationally
• The text investigates the causes and consequences of ethnic conflict
• The authors approach the topic from the novel perspective that the most effective responses to ethnic conflict are those that take into account factors at the local, state, regional and global level and which avoid seeking simplistic explanations and solutions
• Written by two highly respected authors in the field; in particular, Stefan Wolff was the founder of the journal ‘Ethnopolitics' and has published widely in this area

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"A welcome blend of readability, originality, and utilisation of informed writing on ethnic conflict in its comparative and international settings."
New Zealand International Review


"This volume reflects the cutting edge of scholarship on ethnic conflict by two leading scholars in the field. An invaluable addition to the literature."
Richard Caplan, University of Oxford

"This important work expertly reviews the causes of ethnic conflict in order to develop persuasive recommendations for successful conflict-management intervention. Going beyond traditional texts, the volume reflects the latest research on the external causes of internal conflicts. Cordell and Wolff integrate theory with practice, and keep the book very timely, through a series of in-depth case studies of recent ethnic conflicts. This is an impressive work of scholarship, ideal for introductory courses on ethnic conflict and conflict management."
Alan Kuperman, University of Texas at Austin

"This very readable and passionate analysis of ethnic conflict, its sources and management in the post-Cold War world, represents a significant and valuable contribution to the literature on the study of politics and ethnicity."
Adrian Guelke, Queen's University of Belfast


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