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WHCA2014 - Wars and Humanitarianism in historical perspective

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Yvan Guichaoua

on 15 February 2016

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Transcript of WHCA2014 - Wars and Humanitarianism in historical perspective

Wars and Humanitarianism in historical perspective
What we see happening
Dramatic, violent historical change on a global level, with deep impacts on societies and international security

Key debate: is there a post-Cold War effect on the way wars unfold?
How we see things
Change of academic paradigms to interpret drivers of social and political transformation, impacting the worldview of decision makers

Key debates: greed v grievances, macro v micro approaches, liberal peace v 'hybridity'
How we respond to crises
Reflection on humanitarianism and the role of 'international community' reshaped. Trials and errors

Key debates: is humanitarianism losing its alleged original purity through increased politicisation of aid?
Three concomitant changes in the post-WW2 world
What we see happening (is there an end of CW effect?)
How we see things - the state of academic research on political violence
How we respond to crises - dilemmas of humanitarianism
Prologue -
What is war?
Clausewitz's classic perspective challenged
Violent clash of wills arising from the mutual antagonism of the opponents. Inscription of war in a political process
Wars according to statisticians
- More than 1,000 war-related deaths during the entire war and in at least one single year of the war
- the war challenged the sovereignty of an internationally recognised state
- it occurred within the territory of that state
- the state was one of the principal combatants
- the rebels were able to mount and organised military opposition to the state
Today's blurred lines: is it always the case a party wants to win? What's the meaning of victory? Myriads of audiences
Kaldor's New Wars (1998)
Kaldor challenged (Kalyvas)
Disaggregating wars to trace their evolution (B&K)
The three features of NWs (or ‘post-modern’)

i) Civilians as targets (as opposed to well-ordered battles between men in uniforms)

ii) Privatisation / criminalisation of violence (as opposed to state-building enterprises)

iii) Identity wars (as opposed to forward-looking transformative agendas)
--> illegitimate wars?

--> Avowed goals of the book:
i) Changing the perceptions of policy-makers
ii) Designing and enforcing a ‘cosmopolitan response’ (as opposed to ‘exclusivism’) mixing moderate forces within countries and external assistance

The OWs / NWs distinction proves false in each of the dimensions mentioned by Kaldor

i) ‘New’ wars certainly not more nasty than the old ones
ii) Popular support won during the war
iii) Ideological struggles continue but under new guise that we need to explore; motivations need to be unpacked
iv) Warlords don’t just loot
During CW:
- irregular wars dominate

What is happening at the end of the CW?
- sharp decline of irregular and rise of SNC wars

- key explanatory factor: superpower withdrawal
Methodological caveats
Language: a minefield

Reporting on violence and the Icarus effect

Violent conflict is different from non-violent conflict
- Users of force become prominent
- Rules of the game and dynamics change

Why people rebel?
Armed groups dynamics
Civilians in conflicts & rebel rule
Greed v grievances
Toward a better understanding of mobilisation processes 1/3
Toward a better understanding of mobilisation processes 2/3 - Leaders
Greed models were the dominant framework of the 1990s

Based on cross-country regressions (Collier) or journalistic reports (Kaplan)

Main idea: rebels as looters

Serious limitations:
- Role of natural resources dependence has been reconsidered
- A-historical (no interaction with the state)
- Absence micro-foundations (‘loose molecules’ assumption)
Grievances models are being rejuvenated (Stewart, Cederman)

Based on cross-country regressions or journalistic reports, too!

Main idea: aggrieved groups revolt

Serious limitations:
- A-historical (timing?)
- Absence micro-foundations (‘loose molecules’ assumption)

Shift toward micro-level approaches needed!
Armed groups consolidate through a matching process between recruiters and recruits

First movers: entrepreneurs of violence

Rank-and-file: multiple logics of participation
Puzzles: attracting (the right) followers
- how much finance do we have?
- is more better?
- do we allow women in our ranks?

Channels of mobilisation
- Identity production
- Which identities work? Religion v ethnicity
NB: States are major producers of identities
- brokerage between violent actors (horizontal of vertical)
Toward a better understanding of mobilisation processes 3/3 - Low level combatants
An emerging field
Starting point
Civilians are not bystanders (information sharing, sticky prewar institutions, norms etc.)

- Wars produce order
- Civilians may be instrumental in perpetration of violence
How are decisions formed?
Modeling variation in wartime orders
1) Ana Arjona
2) Zachariah Mampilly
- Factors from within (aims, ideologies...)
- Factors from outside (diaspora, foreign interveners)
- Factors from below (state penetration, taxation system)
--> do all of these factors have the same epistemological status?

- Entrenchment in no war / no peace types of governance
- Violent radicalisation / sectarian drifts
- Political normalisation (e.g. today’s RENAMO)
- Annihilation through repressive means
- Factionalisation
- Criminalisation (e.g. OPC, FARC)
- ‘Zombification’ / hijacking...
A great variety of outcomes once the ‘match’ between leaders and followers becomes operational

- Internal match or mismatch
- Interactions with state actors
- Interactions with global actors (Geneva Call)
- Interactions with civilians: civilians are not bystanders

What shapes armed groups’ trajectories?
Parochialisation of civil wars and violence
Violence [in civil wars]is either incompletely related or totally unrelated to the dominant discourse of the war. […] Civil wars are made up of a mosaic of discrete mini-wars (Kalyvas 2006, p. 371)

Alliance entails a process of convergence of interests via a transaction between supralocal and local actors, whereby the former supply the latter with external muscle, thus allowing them to win decisive advantage over local rivals; in exchange, supralocal actors are able to tap into local networks and generate mobilization (Kalyvas 2006, p. 383)
Helping others
A frozen world (the Cold War Era)
Hopes, hubris and failures
The post 9/11 world - Unipolar politics and doctrine change
Interpreting changes
The religious dimension, charity as a moral duty

The ICRC. Helping wounded soldiers

Dissenting voices: preserving bourgeois interests?

Gradual autonomisation of humanitarian practices from other benevolent actions (e.g. Geneva Convention, elaboration of core principles)

Strict compliance with the principle of sovereignty accompanied by massive episodes of violence (Korea, Vietnam, Cameroon, Algeria, Biafra, Latin America...)

Development of a (depoliticised) aid complex: World Bank etc.

Emergence of dissenting voices: the will of nations impedes relief
1991-1993. Temporary euphoria following the demise of the Eastern Bloc (Kurdistan, Somalia)
1993. US debacle in Somalia causes Clinton’s reluctance to intervene in Africa
1994. Rwanda
1995. Bosnia ‘safe areas’ UN powerless (complicit?)
1999. NATO in Kosovo

“Just as surely as our diplomats and military, American NGOs are out there serving and sacrificing on the frontlines of freedom. NGOs are such a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team”

Colin Powell, US Secretary of state, Oct 2001

-- > A logic of regime change

Ambiguous evolution though: R2P

Endogenous changes
Trials and errors on the part of NGOs
Gradual professionalisation / rationalisation of practices

A liberal perspective
Change of the global political climate (end of the Cold War)
Big push for universal liberal democracy, rise of cosmopolitanism
Exacerbation of awareness by the media

A realist (self-interested) perspective
Globalisation: MNCs, increased role of the media…
Supremacy of security concerns of the West – aligned with private interests (Duffield)
Full transcript