Across history, violent conflict has been the source of enormous human misery. War not only maims and kills the individuals doing the fighting but brings death and suffering to civilians as well. Beyond the battlefield casualties they produce, both civil wars and wars between states disrupt economies, displace populations, and are frequently associated with the spread of disease and starvation. Each of the two world wars killed tens of millions of people. The human costs in today’s civil wars in Syria and Yemen are substantial. Not surprisingly, policymakers have sought to find means to manage conflicts by limiting their potential to spread, minimizing conflict intensity, reducing conflicts’ effects on civilians, and increasing the willingness of warring parties to find settlements over the issues at root in a conflict. Not only can effective conflict management efforts reduce the harm produced by an ongoing conflict, but it can also lay the groundwork for lasting peace between belligerents.
This book explores the most prominent approaches to international conflict management in both interstate and intrastate conflict. At one end of the spectrum, these approaches include the more coercive means of compelling protagonists to cease their violent or otherwise undesirable behavior; military intervention and sanctions fall into this category. The rest of the spectrum contains a variety of less hostile conflict management approaches, under which disputants cede various degrees of control over the conflict management process and outcome. Negotiation and mediation, for example, require the cooperation of the conflict parties to begin the conflict management process, reach a settlement of the disputed issues, and enforce any settlement terms. Peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities, on the other hand, still rely on cooperation to a significant degree – particularly the consent of the state hosting the peace operation – but their outcomes rely extensively on the effectiveness of the external agents conducting the activities. Somewhere between mediation and peacekeeping lie the legal approaches – that is, adjudication and arbitration – in which the parties consent to a third party (court or arbiter) determining the settlement of their disputed issues – usually through formal, legal processes over which the disputants have little control. This book examines the use and effectiveness of each of these approaches. At the same time, this book also considers the ways in which policymakers can choose among conflict management strategies and how different conflict management approaches can be used alongside one another to maximize the potential for effective conflict management.
Michael Greig is a Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. Andrew Owsiak is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia. Paul Diehl is the Ashbel Smith Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at Dallas.