IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsCorrecting Inequalities, “You Always Have Losers and Gainers”

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Monday, January 18, 2010

Correcting Inequalities, “You Always Have Losers and Gainers”

This statement was made by Dr. Frances Stewart of Oxford University during an IPI policy forum on inequalities and conflict held last week that also featured discussants Ambassador Peter Maurer of Switzerland and Dr. Susan L. Woodward of CUNY.



Dr. Stewart was responding to a question about the Northern Ireland peace process, which succeeded in restoring near equality to the Catholic-Protestant relationship. “When you correct inequalities," she said, "you always have losers as well as gainers. You can’t really avoid it. Of course, if you can do so in a growing economy, so people are losing relatively but not absolutely, that’s better. But you do have losers.”

In speaking about horizontal inequalities—the subject of the panel discussion and of her 2008 book—Dr. Stewart said, “Analysts say that people can’t live together; that it’s the clash of civilizations, and there’s nothing much we can do about it. And then a whole lot of economists say it’s nothing to do with culture at all, nothing to do with ethnicity; it’s to do with individual people wanting to make money out of war. Greed, it’s called.

“I think what the horizontal-inequalities approach does is to bring these two together. It says, yes, it is about culture, but it’s also about economics. If groups have fundamentally unequal relationships—in politics, in economics, in culture, in the way their culture is treated in the society and the way their religions are treated in society, in social assets, in all these different aspects—then the people who are deprived have a very big motive to challenge the government. And the people in government, if they’re a different group, have a big motive to suppress the others and retain their privilege. And that’s fundamentally why horizontal inequalities, as distinct from vertical inequality, tends to lead to conflict."

The policy forum, held on January 18, 2010, was chaired by Dr. Edward C. Luck, IPI Senior Vice President for Research and Programs.

 


Read full transcript

The Global Observatory

Firing Blanks: The Growing Irrelevance of the UN Small Arms Process
UN momentum toward stopping illicit arms trade seems to have slowed, but national gun control laws hint at the possibility of a successful bottom-up approach.

Key Global Events to Watch in August
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

August 25, 2014
High-Level Forum Examines Lessons of 1814 and 1914 for Today
2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War One and the bicentenary of the opening of the Congress of Vienna–two dates that profoundly shaped the course of history.

August 22, 2014
Real World Lessons Inform 2014 IPI Course in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution
The 2014 Advanced Course in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, held June 22-25, led an array of international diplomats through three days of in-depth lectures, negotiation and public speaking exercises.

July 17, 2014
EU and UN Seek Ways to Improve Cooperation in Peacekeeping
The European Union is among the strongest supporters of UN peacekeeping missions around the globe, but the growing challenges faced by UN-led operations have raised the need for better EU-UN cooperation, both on the ground and at the planning level.

View More