Barriers to Peace: Ethnic War and the Paradox of Rebel-Military Integration


Location: Hesburgh Center, Room C103


Kristen Harkness

Visiting Research Fellow, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies

The international community has increasingly sought to bring ethnic civil wars to an end through mediated settlements, with little demonstrated success.

Through an analysis of the conflicts and peace processes in Burundi, Harkness will argue that negotiated settlements to ethnic wars are prone to failure because, in order to gain credibility with rebels, they must include provisions for rebel integration into the national army. Such integration, however, risks violent defection from extremists within the government military. As a result, a conflict trap emerges in which military integration is both necessary to move a peace process forward and also an obstacle to its success.

Harkness also will test her data against a cross-national dataset of African conflicts.

Kristen Harknes was a visiting lecturer at Duke University during the 2011-12 academic year as she completed her dissertation for Princeton University. While at the Kroc Institute, she is writing a series of articles exploring how military integration during ethnic insurgency or civil war can both advance and hinder peace processes.