Diversity, Violence, and Recognition

An enduring debate in the conflict management literature, as well as policy circles, concerns the wisdom of recognizing versus avoiding reference to ethnic identities after violent conflict. In this book, Cyrus Samii and I ask under what conditions do governments manage internal violent conflicts by formally recognizing different ethnic identities? And, moreover, what are the implications for peace?  Through cross-national global study of post-conflict settlements and institutions since 1990, as well as case studies from Burundi, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, we examine the merits and trade-offs of publicly recognizing ethnic groups in state institutions as compared to not doing so, on sought-after outcomes such as the decline of political violence and the improvement of democracy and economic vitality. The answers to these questions are pressing: Past violent conflict is a robust predictor of future conflict.  Moreover, conflicts with an ethnic component are nearly twice as likely to recur. These facts make institutional choices regarding ethnicity crucial for the prevention of violence.

We are grateful to the Folke Bernadotte Academy (Swedish Government) for funding.