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Policy Papers - May 15, 2004

Program on Economic Agendas in Civil Wars: Principle Research Findings and Policy Recommendations

Karen Ballentine

 

 

The Program on Economic Agendas in Civil Wars (EACW) was launched in 2000 in response to a convergence of political factors, academic interests, and policy concerns that pointed to the need for conflict prevention and resolution policies to be informed by a systematic understanding of the economic dimensions of contemporary civil wars. Preliminary studies undertaken by the International Peace Academy, the World Bank, and university researchers generated many of the broad propositions that guided the program's research and policy development design.


These included assumptions that:

  • Economic factors are consequential to warring elites' decisions to pursue war and peace;
  • Economic greed and not socioeconomic or political grievance is the chief driver of armed conflict;
  • Countries with a relatively high dependence on natural resources are at higher risk of conflict; and
  • Global economic flows (trade, aid, and investment) affect the incidence, duration, intensity, and character of armed conflict.


Taken together, this line of inquiry suggested that economic linkages to conflict provide an important if under-explored avenue for policy interventions aimed at preventing and mitigating armed conflict. Consistent with IPI's mandate to promote more effective policies of conflict prevention, resolution, and postconflict reconstruction, the central aims of the Economic Agendas in Civil Wars policy research and development program were three-fold:


  • To improve understanding of the political economy of civil wars, through an analysis of the economic strategies of belligerents and their followers.
  • To inquire into the impact of economic globalization and the role played by transnational private sector actors in conflict zones.
  • To evaluate a range of policy and regulatory responses to curtail conflict-promoting economic activities and perhaps, too, change the incentives of warring factions to reduce the rewards of violence and to increase those of peace. The program also inquired into the means of enhancing the political and economic accountability of actors involved in violent conflicts.

 

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