War, Hunger, and Displacement

The Origins of Humanitarian Emergencies : War and Displacement in Developing Countries

Civil wars in developing countries are amongst the most significant sources of human suffering in the world today. Although there are many political analyses of these emergencies, this two-volume work is the first comprehensive study of the economic, social, and political roots of humanitarian emergencies, identifying early measures to prevent such disasters. Nafziger, Stewart, and Väyrynen draw on a wide range of specialists on the political economy of war and on major conflicts to show the causes of conflict. The first volume provides a general overview of the nature and causes of the emergencies, including economic, political, and environmental factors. The second volume provides detailed case studies of thirteen conflicts (including Rwanda, Burundi, the Congo, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus) that originated in the weakness of the state or where economic factors predominate. The volumes emphasize the significance of protracted economic stagnation and decline, government exclusion of distinct social groups, state failure, predatory rule, and high and increasing inequality, especially horizontal inequalities, or inequality among groups in access to political, economic, and social resources. They criticize beliefs recurrent in the literature that emergencies are the result of deteriorating environmental conditions or structural adjustment, or arise from ethnic animosities alone. Violent conflicts and state violence arise from the interaction of cultural, economic, and political factors. Following this analysis of the causes of war and genocide, the work points to policies that would help to prevent humanitarian emergencies in developing countries, which would be much less costly than the present strategy of the world community of spending millions of dollars annually to provide mediation, relief, and rehabilitation after the conflict occurs.


'This work may well be opening up a new research arena. By explicitly framing the analysis in a political economy approach, and by visualizing various forms of state failure and institutional collapse, these studies raise troublesome questions for the international community.' - Development and Change

'This major two volume study on a subject of increasing importance, deserves wide attention.' - Development Policy Review

'Everyone interested in the issues and regions discussed will find considerable value in these books, which deserve a place in any serious library.' - Martin Shaw, Journal of Development Studies