Civil conflict causes more deaths now than wars between states, and, even when combatants seek to stop fighting, doing so can be difficult because both violence and subsequent efforts at peace alter institutions, affect economies, and at times even upend societies. Perhaps due to these challenges, international actors often intervene in a variety of ways, both during and after conflict. This course, then, first addresses questions of how civil conflicts occur, are conducted, and end. These include asking what motivates individuals and groups to resort to violence; what tactics they use; how they expect to succeed; and what mechanism terminates the fighting and rebuilds society. This course then also addresses the role of international actors in these contexts. These include asking when and why international actors foment discord and even violence; what tactics international actors use; and when international actors succeed in achieving their goals. Most of the course focuses on the second theme, examining tactics that include peace enforcement and peacekeeping, but also invasion, economic sanctions, election manipulation, as well as democracy assistance, conditional aid, consent-based statebuilding and specifically peacebuilding programs.
This course is therefore designed to help you: (1) engage with the existing work in the field to understand the causes, strategies, and outcomes of civil conflict – a major contemporary challenge – but also how international actors intervene in it, (2) broaden your theoretical framework in international relations more generally, and, especially, (3) begin research individual or collaborative research on civil conflict and international intervention, either qualitative or quantitative. It is especially aimed at moving PhD students forward in their work on topics broadly related to these.