New Challenges for Poverty Reduction
Edited by M. A. Mohamed Salih
Chapter 8: Humans are the Measure of All Things: Resource Conflicts versus Cooperation
Syed Mansoob Murshed1 Civil war is a multifaceted problem. Not only does it produce human tragedies on a colossal scale, but it also creates humanitarian crises that are of concern to the international community, as well as contributing to global and regional insecurity. Civil war is also a major cause of underdevelopment and perpetuates poverty (see Murshed 2002; Collier et al. 2003). Civil wars are not a homogenous phenomenon. Their origins, motivations and objectives vary. A useful guide to the typology of conflict is in Besançon (2005). The discussion on the typology of civil war points to four broad types: genocides, revolutions or rebellions against the state, secessionist wars and internationalized wars (where adjoining states or the great powers get involved). Many examples of contemporary conflict do not always fit neatly into only one of the categories mentioned. According to the rational choice paradigm, conflict is a result of choice. This may be of a myopic nature, as negotiated settlements that avoid losses that ensue from war are usually Pareto superior. Two phenomena utilized to explain conflict onset among academic economists are greed and grievance. The former is due to the influential work of Paul Collier (see Collier and Hoeffler 2002, 2004) and is more popular amongst economists. According to this view, conflict reflects elite competition over valuable natural resource rents, concealed by the guise of collective grievance. Additionally rebellions need to be financially viable: civil wars supported by natural resource based rents like blood diamonds or oil, or...
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