The Causes and Solutions to Ethnic Conflicts

1733 WordsMay 19, 20117 Pages
The Causes and Solutions to Ethnic Conflicts Scholars of International Security have been trying to develop a theoretical approach to explain the causes of ethnic conflict for a long time. These studies have led to contentious debates but have also probed so deeply that their findings help shed new light on these issues, providing better understanding and possible solutions. Ethnic groups are defined as a community of people who share cultural and linguistic characteristics including religion, language, history, tradition, myth, and origin. This paper will explore the realist explanations of ethnic conflicts and then see how critical theory explanations offer new insight and answers to puzzles that could not be previously be…show more content…
The most dominant explanation for ethnic conflict in these areas had been the realist account, which claimed that European colonialism created strife by reconstructing African identities and exploiting their resources; forcing them the compete with each other for survival. While I do believe that these realist explanations are legitimate factors, I do not think they are the only ones. After reading Stuart Kaufman’s in depth explanations, I am now convinced that value systems—or lack thereof, lie at the root of ethnic conflict. In Northern Sudan, Islamic values encouraged hostile expansionism of Sharia law, which threatened the survival (identity) of the Southern Sudanese who were unwilling to submit to it. Similarly, the creation of hostile myths against the Tutsi minority and large scale acceptance of the use of violence against them in Rwanda shows how easily populations lacking strong value systems can be manipulated by political elites into justifying the most heinous acts of violence against other human beings. Just as there are many plausible theories that explain the causes of ethnic conflicts worldwide, there too are many possible solutions. Although he is a realist scholar, Barry Posen admits that

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