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Civilian Victimization During Conflict  

Alexander B. Downes and Stephen Rangazas

Since the end of the Cold War, scholars have increasingly sought to explain the causes of civilian victimization—the intentional use of violence against noncombatants—during armed conflict. The question of the effects and effectiveness of violence against civilians, in contrast, has received less scholarly attention. One strand of research examines the impact of wartime civilian victimization on postconflict political behavior and outcomes. A second strand investigates the effectiveness of violence during the war itself. The principal question this literature asks is: Does civilian victimization “work”? Put more precisely, can intentionally targeting noncombatants help belligerents achieve their wartime objectives, whatever those might be? Civilian victimization takes different forms and serves different purposes in different kinds of conflicts; scholarship on its effectiveness is thus divided into work on irregular (predominantly intrastate) wars versus conventional (predominantly, but not exclusively, interstate) wars. No matter what its particular form or in which type of conflict it is used, however, civilian victimization tends to follow two broad logics: coercive and eliminationist. Most scholarship on irregular wars examines the effectiveness of coercive victimization, whereas studies of conventional war look at the efficacy of both. For example, a key debate in the literature on civilian victimization in irregular wars concerns whether selective or indiscriminate violence is more effective at deterring civilians from shifting their allegiances to the adversary. A broad consensus holds that violence is effective only when selective, but new studies have found that indiscriminate violence can also work under certain circumstances. Similarly, there is broad agreement (with some notable exceptions) in the literature on conventional war that coercive civilian victimization—which is almost by definition indiscriminate—is ineffective. In contrast, scholars have yet to assess systematically the effectiveness of eliminationist victimization in conventional war.

Article

The Conduct and Consequences of War  

Alyssa K. Prorok and Paul K. Huth

The academic study of warfare has expanded considerably over the past 15 years. Whereas research used to focus almost exclusively on the onset of interstate war, more recent scholarship has shifted the focus from wars between states to civil conflict, and from war onset to questions of how combatants wage and terminate war. Questioned as well are the longer-term consequences of warfare for countries and their populations. Scholarship has also shifted away from country-conflict-year units of analysis to micro-level studies that are attentive to individual-level motives and explanations of spatial variation in wartime behavior by civilians and combatants within a country or armed conflict. Today, research focuses on variations in how states and rebel groups wage war, particularly regarding when and how wars expand, whether combatants comply with the laws of war, when and why conflicts terminate, and whether conflicts end with a clear military victory or with a political settlement through negotiations. Recent research also recognizes that strategic behavior continues into the post-conflict period, with important implications for the stability of the post-conflict peace. Finally, the consequences of warfare are wide-ranging and complex, affecting everything from political stability to public health, often long after the fighting stops.

Article

Peace Operations  

Paul D. Williams

Peace operations involve the expeditionary use of uniformed personnel (police and/or military) whose mission is to help secure “international peace and security.” In many ways, peace operations are the most visible activity of the United Nations with a mandate to deter armed conflict through preventive deployment or help to kick-start a peace process through peacemaking initiatives, among other purposes. Peace operations can be grouped into several categories, including preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding, and peace enforcement. There are three clusters of approaches that have tried to think conceptually about the relationship between peace operations and broader processes of global politics: global culture, critical theory, and cosmopolitanism. Questions of success and failure in peace operations have been tackled in the literature, which includes the UN’s own reports as well as books and articles appearing within a range of academic disciplines. Scholars have also analyzed the many challenges facing peace operations ranging from civilian protection and gender issues to public security and policing, privatization, intelligence provision, and state-building. Overcoming these challenges will require, at a minimum, new ways of thinking about the problems concerned, new ways of organizing the relevant institutions, and getting the would-be state-builders to allocate substantial resources. There are also some important questions that deserve greater attention; for example, what types of non-UN peace operations are most effective, under what conditions, and how they compare with UN operations, or how a world order can be constructed in which the peacekeepers have put themselves out of business.