Article

Violent Conflicts and natural disasters: The growing case for Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue

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Abstract

Comparisons between disasters and violent conflicts are often noted by political figures and in the news media, and those responding to conflicts and disasters witness similarities on the ground. In contrast, the academic fields studying violent conflicts and so-called natural disasters have developed separately and practitioners usually separate the two phenomena as soon as the emergency response is over. This paper, based on interviews with practitioners and a review of scholarly literature, makes a case for increased cross-disciplinary dialogue. We identify common consequences, responses and even causes of conflicts and disasters. We argue that more and better partnerships between those who work on conflicts and those who work on disasters can lead to advances in understanding and responding to conflicts and disasters.

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... scholars who study conflict itself are less persuaded by the importance of climate as a factor in outbreak of conflict . . .." (King andMutter, 2014, p. 1248). ...
... It orients the research towards fundamentally rebalancing the missing synergy between the climate science and social science communities (see Lewis and 5 Lenton, 2015) and suggests taking into account the deterministic storyline regarding causes of peace and cooperation under climate change (Gemenne et al., 2014). Indeed, the considerable range of knowledge this can generate has been voiced (Slow, 2013;King and Mutter, 2014), especially in the hope for more convergence and consensual results (Ide and Scheffran, 2014). ...
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... scholars who study conflict itself are less persuaded by the importance of climate as a factor in outbreak of conflict . . . (King andMutter, 2014, p. 1248). ...
... It orients the research towards fundamentally rebalancing the missing synergy between the climate science and social science communities (see Lewis and Lenton, 2015) and suggests taking into account the deterministic storyline regarding causes of peace and cooperation under climate change (Gemenne et al., 2014). Indeed, the considerable range of knowledge this can generate has been voiced (Slow, 2013;King and Mutter, 2014), especially in the hope for more convergence and consensual results . ...
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Thesis
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The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of non-conventional violence on the implementation of disaster risk reduction projects in the Northern Triangle of Central America. The Northern Triangle is facing substantial disaster risk from various hazards. Hence, there is a need for disaster risk reduction in the region. However, besides the challenges in terms of disasters, this region is characterised by elevated levels of non-conventional violence. This thesis defines non-conventional violence as the criminalized violence. Disaster risk reduction projects are also located in these violent areas. This research finds that the non-conventional violence influences an interconnected system of eight codes, which consequently has an impact on the implementation of disaster risk reduction projects in the Northern Triangle. Moreover, the context of the Northern Triangle shows differences to other criminal areas. This triggers the assumption of similarities to conflict zones (e.g. Afghanistan). Finally, I assume that a comparable system of influence might have its effect on disaster risk reduction in those conflict zones.
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Political scientists have conducted only limited systematic research on the consequences of war for civilian populations. Here we argue that the civilian suffering caused by civil war extends well beyond the period of active warfare. We examine these longer-term affects in a cross-national (1999) analysis of World Health Organization new fine-grained data on death and disability broken down by age, gender, and type of disease or condition. We test hypotheses about the impact of civil wars and find substantial long-term effects, even after controlling for several other factors. We estimate that the additional burden of death and disability incurred in 1999, from the indirect and lingering effects of civil wars in the years 1991-97, was approximately equal to that incurred directly and immediately from all wars in 1999. This impact works its way through specific diseases and conditions and disproportionately affects women and children.
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Cambridge Core - Environmental Policy, Economics and Law - Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation - edited by Christopher B. Field
Article
This article focuses on the 1976 Guatemala earthquake disaster as a possible crisis trigger, in a relatively strict application of the critical juncture analytical approach. It expands to include the broader question of what conditions might cause disasters to trigger crises that open critical junctures for nation-states. The research concludes that the 1976 Guatemala disaster led to a high degree of community self-organizing and alliance-building across Guatemala, which the Guatemalan national security state at that time perceived as a fundamental crisis requiring a response. This reaction generated significant debate and policy conflict within the state; the resulting decision was massively repressive violence, with legacies that continue to this day. Another conclusion is that strictly applied, critical juncture analysis can untangle often very complicated disaster postimpact emergency, recovery, and reconstruction situations.
Article
Research into the causes of contemporary international conflict faces a number of conceptual limitations, which in turn limits the effectiveness of international conflict resolution efforts. Typically, today's internal conflicts are conceived of as irrational outbursts of 'ethnic' hatred, or the breakdown of normally peaceful political systems. In this paper, I argue that the causes of internal conflicts are, in fact, located in the structures of weak states and the actions of weak state elites, who may deliberately engender conflict as a rational response to the internal and external demands brought on by the intrusive processes of globalisation. In this sense, internal conflict is a 'normal' aspect of weak state politics. The weak state framework not only provides a more satisfying explanation of internal conflict, but it has profound implications for conflict resolution. It suggests that conflict resolution must be focused on state reconstruction activities, rather than on saving failing states. It also suggests that there are likely to be many more internal conflicts which demand international action in the future.
Article
In this article we propose a new typology for insurgent groups to explain why in such remarkably similar conflicts—Sri Lanka and Aceh—the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami was so different. We argue that two principal factors shape all rebel groups by defining their incentive structures: the efficiency of the return on investment of the primary source(s) of support and the group's territorial objectives. The former factor is especially strong in explaining the different choices made by the LTTE and GAM. In Sri Lanka, the availability of lucrative resources outside the country has made the LTTE leadership inimical to compromise, threatened by relief aid, and less reliant on the local population. Lacking access to such high-return funding sources, GAM on the other hand was more closely linked to the needs of the local population and found greater value in both outside aid and a comprehensive settlement.
Article
The tragedies of the past decade have led to an identity crisis among humanitarians. Respecting traditional principles of neutrality and impartiality and operating procedures based on consent has created as many problems as it has solved. A debate is raging between “classicists,” who believe that humanitarian action can be insulated from politics, and various “political humanitarians,” who are attempting to use politics to improve relief and delivery in war zones This essay examines the pros and cons of impartial versus political humanitarianism and differing approaches across a spectrum of actors, including the classicists, led by the International Committee of the Red Cross, who believe that humanitarian action can and should be completely insulated from politics; the “minimalists,” who “aim to do no harm” in delivering relief; the “maximalists,” who have a more ambitious agenda of employing humanitarian action as part of a comprehensive strategy to transform conflict; and the “solidarists,” exemplified by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), who choose sides and abandon neutrality and impartiality as well as reject consent as a prerequisite for intervention. The essay argues that there is no longer any need to ask whether politics and humanitarian action intersect. The real question is how this intersection can be managed to ensure more humanized politics and more effective humanitarian action.
Article
This article discusses the probability of increased communal conflict in African states due to the “political vulnerability” of groups to climate change. From an initial examination of communal conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa, the risk of conflict depends largely on the size and political importance of ethnic groups. Environmental issues can be catalysts to low-level conflict in marginalized communities, but the critical factor is the extent of political and economic marginalization. Small, politically insignificant ethnic groups experience most conflicts related to environmental pressures. This framework informs a prediction of where we should expect to see high levels of politically induced vulnerability and resultant intra- and intercommunal conflicts.
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This article takes complex emergencies and the humanitarian response to them as its point of reference. It provides a critique of relief, development and the linking debate. Rather than being autonomous, relief is a developmental idea. However, development concepts have proven incapable of explaining permanent emergency. They also underestimate the extent of the North's institutional accommodation with unresolved political crisis in the South. Beginning with non-mandated NGO operations, there has been a growing acknowledgement of the inevitability of working in conflict situations. Moreover, accompanying the growth in emergency spending, the number of options available to donors has increased. Aid is now integrated with the dynamics of violence to an unprecedented extent. Greater donor flexibility in the face of systemic crisis has also contributed to a weakening of the principle of collective responsibility in the North. A new political consensus and innovative ways of working with protracted crisis are required to tackle the problem of complex emergencies.
Article
Until recently, most writings on the relationship between climate change and security were highly speculative. The IPCC assessment reports to date offer little if any guidance on this issue and occasionally pay excessive attention to questionable sources. The articles published in this special issue form the largest collection of peer-reviewed writings on the topic to date. The number of such studies remains small compared to those that make up the natural science base of the climate issue, and there is some confusion whether it is the effect of ‘climate’ or ‘weather’ that is being tested. The results of the studies vary, and firm conclusions cannot always be drawn. Nevertheless, research in this area has made considerable progress. More attention is being paid to the specific causal mechanisms linking climate change to conflict, such as changes in rainfall and temperature, natural disasters, and economic growth. Systematic climate data are used in most of the articles and climate projections in some. Several studies are going beyond state-based conflict to look at possible implications for other kinds of violence, such as intercommunal conflict. Overall, the research reported here offers only limited support for viewing climate change as an important influence on armed conflict. However, framing the climate issue as a security problem could possibly influence the perceptions of the actors and contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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The issue of climate change and security has received much attention in recent years. Still, the results from research on this topic are mixed and the academic community appears to be far from a consensus on how climate change is likely to affect stability and conflict risk in affected countries. This study focuses on how climate-related natural disasters such as storms, floods, and droughts have affected the risk of civil war in the past. The frequency of such disasters has risen sharply over the last decades, and the increase is expected to continue due to both climate change and demographic changes. Using multivariate methods, this study employs a global sample covering 1950 to the present in order to test whether adding climate-related natural disasters to a well-specified model on civil conflict can increase its explanatory power. The results indicate that this is the case, but that the relation is opposite to common perceptions: Countries that are affected by climate-related natural disasters face a lower risk of civil war. One worrying facet of the claims that environmental factors cause conflict is that they may contribute to directing attention away from more important conflict-promoting factors, such as poor governance and poverty. There is a serious risk of misguided policy to prevent civil conflict if the assumption that disasters have a significant effect on war is allowed to overshadow more important causes.
Article
Does the occurrence of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, volcanic eruption, tsunami, flood, hurricane, epidemic, heat wave, and/or plague increase the risk of violent civil conflict in a society? This study uses available data for 187 political units for the period 1950–2000 to systematically explore this question that has received remarkably little attention in the voluminous literature on civil war. We find that natural disasters significantly increase the risk of violent civil conflict both in the short and medium term, specifically in low- and middle-income countries that have intermediate to high levels of inequality, mixed political regimes, and sluggish economic growth. Rapid-onset disasters related to geology and climate pose the highest overall risk, but different dynamics apply to minor as compared to major conflicts. The findings are robust in terms of the use of different dependent and independent variables, and a variety of model specifications. Given the likelihood that rapid climate change will increase the incidence of some types of natural disasters, more attention should be given to mitigating the social and political risks posed by these cataclysmic events.
Article
Edward Miguel, Shanker Satyanath, and Ernest Sergenti (2004), henceforth MSS, argue that lower rainfall levels and negative rainfall shocks increase conflict risk in sub-Saharan Africa. This conclusion rests on their finding of a negative correlation between conflict in t and rainfall growth between t — 1 and t — 2. I show that this finding is driven by a (counterintuitive) positive correlation between conflict in t and rainfall levels in t — 2. If lower rainfall levels or negative rainfall shocks increased conflict, MSS's finding should have been due to a negative correlation between conflict in t and rainfall levels in t — 1. In the latest data, conflict is unrelated to rainfall. (JEL D74, E32, O11, O17, O47)
Article
In 2005, a hurricane named Katrina hit the states of Louisiana and Mississippi in the US, destroying properties and flooding areas. Many people left the region and still have not returned. While some of these people may eventually return, some may not, becoming “migrants.” Assuming this phenomenon will occur, is it unique? What is the role of the environment in migration? Can there be violent conflict between such migrants and residents in areas absorbing migrants? We evaluate these questions in the cases of Hurricane Katrina, the US Dust Bowl in the 1930s, and Bangladesh since the 1950s, demonstrating that environmental change can trigger large out-migration, which can cause violent conflict in areas receiving migrants. These findings have important policy implications. Climate change is expected to degrade the environment considerably in this century. Minimizing climate change-induced migration and violent conflict in receiving areas requires an engineered economic slowdown in the developed countries, and population stabilization and economic growth in the developing countries financed by the developed countries.
Article
Major advances have been made during the past decade in the way the international community responds to the health and nutrition consequences of complex emergencies. The public health and clinical response to diseases of acute epidemic potential has improved, especially in camps. Case-fatality rates for severely malnourished children have plummeted because of better protocols and products. Renewed focus is required on the major causes of death in conflict-affected societies--particularly acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, malaria, measles, neonatal causes, and malnutrition--outside camps and often across regions and even political boundaries. In emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly southern Africa, HIV/AIDS is also an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Stronger coordination, increased accountability, and a more strategic positioning of non-governmental organisations and UN agencies are crucial to achieving lower maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates in complex emergencies and therefore for reaching the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
Article
We re‐examine the Miguel et al. (200414. Miguel , E. , Satyanath , S. and Sergenti , E. 2004. Economic shocks and civil conflict: an instrumental variables approach. Journal of Political Economy, 112(4): 725–753. [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]View all references) study of the impact of growth on civil war, using growth in rainfall as an instrument. Miguel et al. (200414. Miguel , E. , Satyanath , S. and Sergenti , E. 2004. Economic shocks and civil conflict: an instrumental variables approach. Journal of Political Economy, 112(4): 725–753. [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]View all references) – in our view, erroneously – include countries participating in civil wars in other states. Restricting the conflict data to states with conflict on their own territory reduces the estimated impact of economic growth on civil war. We show how spatial correlations in rainfall growth and participation in civil conflicts induce a stronger apparent relationship in the mis‐classified data.
Article
Estimating the impact of economic conditions on the likelihood of civil conflict is difficult because of endogeneity and omitted variable bias. We use rainfall variation as an instrumental variable for economic growth in 41 African countries during 1981-99. Growth is strongly negatively related to civil conflict: a negative growth shock of five percentage points increases the likelihood of conflict by one-half the following year. We attempt to rule out other channels through which rainfall may affect conflict. Surprisingly, the impact of growth shocks on conflict is not significantly different in richer, more democratic, or more ethnically diverse countries.
Article
This study investigates the quality of life (QOL) and academic achievement of earthquake survivors six years after the earthquakes in Marmara, Turkey. Data were collected from 407 Turkish university students. Of these, 201 were earthquake survivors and 206 had not been exposed to an earthquake. The Turkish adaptation of the brief version of the World Health Organisation's QOL instrument (WHOQOL-BREF, TR) was used to measure QOL. The results reveal that the earthquake survivors' psychological and environmental domains of QOL and academic achievement were significantly lower than those of individuals not exposed to an earthquake. The results also highlight the risk factors that affect the QOL of the earthquake survivors significantly. These are their gender, their age at the time of earthquake and the continued existence of financial difficulties linked to the earthquakes.