The Essential Role of Simultaneous Interventions in African Civil Conflict Resolution Efforts
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CitationHiggins, Dana. 2019. The Essential Role of Simultaneous Interventions in African Civil Conflict Resolution Efforts. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn an age of collective responsibility, even the most well-intentioned third parties are faced with an impossible choice between the consequences of complacency or the uncertainty of intervention to resolve civil conflicts. When faced with these situations and the desire to act, international actors need an answer to the question of how. Despite the frequency of third party interventions, very little if anything is understood about the interaction between the efforts, which begs the question: how do conflict resolution efforts affect each other in reducing the amount of violence in conflict? Further, what factors or design characteristics are more effective in specific intervention environments? And finally, are certain combinations of actors or intervention types more or less successful in managing conflict?
This project begins to tackle these complex questions by evaluating simultaneous third-party resolution efforts in civil conflicts and the levels of violence following an intervention. The first chapter suggests a new perspective on conflict resolution: simultaneous interventions. The concept of simultaneous interventions is defined as multiple conflict resolution efforts overlapping in time and compared to relevant concepts in the literature, such as multiparty efforts and sequential interventions. Then a theoretical framework is proposed for understanding how simultaneous interventions affect conflict dynamics, suggesting that they will be more successful in mitigating and resolving violence. Simultaneous conflict resolution efforts are expected to be more successful on average by increasing the input of resources dedicated to conflict resolution, increasing the diversity of skills and experience, and increasing the efficiency of efforts by reducing costs.
The second chapter explores the new perspective of simultaneous interventions empirically, highlighting the potential for uncovering new knowledge in already studied areas of conflict resolution. First, the trends and patterns of simultaneous conflict resolution efforts over time and across different civil conflicts are discussed to illustrate how these interventions occur in practice. An initial look at the effectiveness -- or lack thereof as the evidence shows -- of simultaneous interventions in mitigating violence is included. Second, the relationship between simultaneous efforts and levels of violence is considered in a broader context, including other intervention characteristics and conflict settings such as levels of violence before the intervention. The types of conflict resolution considered in this project are also detailed and the variations in how simultaneous interventions interact across types is considered.
The third chapter introduces a new concept made possible by the perspective of simultaneous conflict resolution efforts: coordinated interventions. First, the concept of coordination is defined for the literature more broadly and then specifically for this project as common actor involvement. Second, a theoretical framework of how coordinated simultaneous interventions are more efficient in implementing conflict resolution than uncoordinated efforts is proposed. Coordinated interventions reduce competition by coordinating goals and utilize the advantages of division of labor by coordinating implementation. Third, the implementation and consequences of coordinated efforts in practice is explored. After a brief consideration of the patterns of coordination over time and across conflicts, the effectiveness of coordinated and simultaneous efforts in reducing levels of violence in a conflict is considered in context of intervention characteristics and specific conflict settings.
Finally, the concluding chapter summarizes the main findings and contributions of this project. As the goal is to inspire a new perspective of conflict resolution efforts, this chapter details an extensive research agenda, extending both the theoretical and empirical development of simultaneous and coordinated interventions.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029660
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