Journal Special Issue
Explaining Violent Conflict

Going Beyond Greed versus Grievance

Recent years have seen a surge of research into the causes of conflict together with its development effects, as well as the design of peace initiatives, peace-keeping and programmes of reconstruction, reconciliation and democratization in ‘post-conflict’ societies. This research deals with a highly complex (and contested) set of issues, not least because conflict can take a wide variety of forms: high levels of political violence within the context of a functioning state; low-intensity guerrilla insurrection or localized rebellion; civil war that does fundamental damage to (or destroys) state organizations; and wars between states or alliances of states. Crucially, societies may stand on the cusp of conflict but pull back and they may pass back and forth between types of conflict (from low-intensity to high-intensity civil war, for instance). In the more fortunate (but all too few) cases they may successfully drag themselves from the mire of endless violence, only to face seemingly insurmountable challenges in the peace; the experience of post-conflict reconstruction shows that peace may save the lives of the poor but it may do little to improve their livelihoods.