Analysis of civil and international conflict is an important component of the fields of political science and international relations. The theories that animate the study of conflict have focused on a combination of economic and ethnic–ideological motivations, along with political and systemic factors such as alliances and support from external benefactors. However, few studies have presented a coherent and compelling account of the persistence and patterns of conflict since 1945. Many conflict studies that consider spatial phenomena ignore the particularities of the data and the context of spatial relationships. Three strands of research on spatial analysis of war can be identified: studies that explored how neighboring states influence the propensity for the international spread of disputes; studies that lend support to both spatial heterogeneity and dependence explanations of civil war patterns in developing states; and work that incorporates space into quantitative civil war studies by modeling how subnational characteristics affect civil war risk. In general, the qualitative literature on conflict has provided insights that help to identify predictive variables for quantitative analysis, in particular the local spatial distribution of violence and its trends over time. This is evident in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where violent events have erupted since independence in 1960. Despite the substantial progress in conflict research, there are a number of areas that deserve further investigation, including the specific contextual factors that govern the ebb and flow of conflict such as terrain, forest cover, distribution of supportive and opponent populations.
Clionadh Raleigh, Frank D. W. Witmer, and John O’Loughlin
The just war tradition is the most dominant framework for analyzing the morality of war. Just war theory is being challenged by proponents of two philosophical views: realism, which considers moral questions about war to be irrelevant, and pacifism, which rejects the idea that war can ever be moral. Realism and pacifism offer a useful starting point for thinking about the ethics of war and peace. Feminists have been engaged with the just war tradition, mainly by exposing the gendered biases of just war attempts to restrain and regulate war and studying the role that war and its regulation plays in defining masculinity. In particular, feminists claim that the two rules of just war, jus ad bellum and jus in bello, discriminate against women. In regard to contemporary warfare, such as post-Cold War humanitarian interventions and the War on Terror, feminists have questioned the appropriateness of just war concepts to deal with the specific ethical challenges that these conflicts produce. Instead of abstract moral reasoning, which they critique as being linked to the masculine ideals of autonomy and rationality, many feminist argue for certain varieties of an ethics of care. Further research is needed to elaborate the basis of an ethical response to violence that builds on philosophical work on feminist ethics. Key areas for future investigation include asking hard questions about whom we may kill, and how certain people become killable in war while others remain protected.
Given the systematic threats facing humanity, there is an urgent need for new thinking about the human rights project. The most prevalent form of global abuse exists in the form of violence against women and children. Sexual violence has been considered the most pervasive, yet least recognized human rights, abuse in the world. Equally prevalent among the modern sources of threats to physical integrity rights are the pervasive practice of torture and the issue of poverty and the threats it poses to human dignity and human rights. Individual civil-political rights and the rights of minorities, including women, ethnic and religious minorities, and indigenous people have been protected at times and violated at other times by states. Moreover, some observers argue that group rights should be properly understood as an extension of the already recognized collective rights to self-determination of people. But this broad spectrum of human rights violations can be organized into two categories: domestic and international. The domestic sources include both local and national sources of human rights abuses, and international sources entail international and global dimensions. These analyses are interconnected and reinforcing, but they can be contradictory at times. Understanding such complex interrelations is a necessary condition for describing factors and processes leading to abuses. In an applied sense, this understanding is essential for suggesting how we should proceed with the protection of basic human rights. Although there is agreement on the most pressing problems of human suffering, there is no consensus over the answers.
Charlotte Graves Patton
Resolution 1325, adopted by the United Nations Security Council (SC) on October 31, 2000, reaffirms the important role of women in conflict resolution as well as in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. Res 1325 urges states to expand the number of women working in UN peacekeeping, diplomacy, the military, and police, while rejecting impunity in matters of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, especially with reference to violence against women. It also calls for greater consideration of the needs of women and girls in conflict circumstances, including in refugee camps, and the different needs of female and male ex-combatants in disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). Transnational networks, such as the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security (NGOWGWPS), played an influential role in the drafting of Res 1325y. The implementation of this resolution throughout UN agencies may be assessed using two theoretical perspectives, constructivism and neorealism. The NGOWGWPS’s published report, Five Years On Report: From Local to Global: Making Peace Work for Women, describes National Action Plans (NAPs) as a tool that member states could use to detail steps that they will take to fulfill Res 1325’s objectives. It is worth noting that 37 out of 193 member countries of the UN have or are establishing NAPs. However, the UN has been slow to “adopt, consume, and promote” the norms embodied in SC Res 1325. One way to address this is to include changes in national foreign policies actively supporting such norms.