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Distributional Conflict, The State, and Peacebuilding in Burundi

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This paper examines the causes of conflict in Burundi and discusses strategies for building peace. The analysis of the complex relationships between distribution and group dynamics reveals that these relationships are reciprocal, implying that distribution and group dynamics are endogenous. The nature of endogenously generated group dynamics determines the type of preferences (altruistic or exclusionist), which in turn determines the type of allocative institutions and policies that prevail in the political and economic system. While unequal distribution of resources may be socially inefficient, it nonetheless can be rational from the perspective of the ruling elite, especially because inequality perpetuates dominance. However, because unequal distribution of resources generates conflict, maintaining a system based on inequality is difficult because it requires ever increasing investments in repression. It is therefore clear that if the new Burundian leadership is serious about building peace, it must engineer institutions that uproot the legacy of discrimination and promote equal opportunity for social mobility for all members of ethnic groups and regions.
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Preface Acknowledgements 1. The Burundi paradox 2. The meta-conflict: violence as discourse 3. History as prologue 4. The crystallization of ethnic tensions 5. The 1972 watershed 6. The restructuring of state-society relations 7. The 1988 killings: the anatomy of fear 8. Toward a grand settlement 9. Hegemony, consociationalism, democracy, or none of the above? 10. Epilogue References Index.
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Civil wars always end, but they usually restart. Globally, with the first ten years of the end of a conflict, 31 percent of them have resumed. African conflicts are even more prone to restart than the global average: half of African peace restorations last less than a decade. Thus, while for those African countries currently at war the task of reaching peace may seem enormous, the harder task is probably not to reach peace but to sustain it. This paper explores appropriate policies for sustainable peace both for the international community and for a post-conflict government. Section two provides an overview of the problem. The authors discuss the risk factors which determine whether a conflict restarts, and show how they can be measured. In the next two sections the authors focus in turn on action by the international community and action by a post-conflict government. In section three the authors focus upon peace-building actions by the international community, identifying the circumstances in which United Nations intervention is most valuable. In section four the authors turn to the policy choices of a post-conflict government. The authors focus on two core tasks: defusing a volatile military situation, and making government more inclusive. In section five the authors pull together the evidence. Each African post-conflict situation is different, but that does not mean it is unpredictable. The composition of the risk factors facing a country at a particular time can be estimated, and from this, the most serious risks can be identified and prioritized.