Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers
Thomas Edward Flores and Irfan Nooruddin 23.1 INTRODUCTION As the contributions in this volume attest, civil war is common and deadly. By one count, civil conflicts have killed nearly 20 million people since 1945 (World Bank 2006). Perversely, the social, political and economic damage inflicted during civil conflicts often persists or even worsens once hostilities end, in turn planting the seeds of future civil conflicts. Paul Collier and his co-authors (2003) describe this cycle as a “conflict trap” and urge international donors to assist post-conflict countries in their economic reconstruction or risk further war. That logic suggests two related questions for post-conflict countries. First, what factors favor the deepening of peace after civil conflicts? Second, what political steps are needed to speed economic reconstruction and provide opportunities to impoverished citizens? Research seeking to answer these questions not only furthers our understanding of civil conflicts, but also provides valuable guidance to politicians, aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the shadow of violent conflicts. Indeed, the challenge of promoting post-conflict economic recovery while avoiding conflict recidivism is daunting. Collier et al. (2003, p. 83) show that the risk of further conflict for countries emerging from civil war (that is, in the first year of post-conflict peace) is almost twice as high as it was on the eve of that conflict. Our own data support a pernicious version of the “conflict trap” and dramatically emphasizes the importance of short-term economic recovery; if a country does not recover economically in its first...
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