Skip Navigation

An Annotated Bibliography

Prepared by Stephen Commins, June 2002.

Mary Anderson, “Do No Harm”, Local Capacities for Peace Project, 1996
This paper was one of the early challenges (see also Duffield, deWaal, Slim for other examples) to the practices of international organizations, bilateral donors and NGOs. It challenged the humanitarian assumption that aid will necessarily improve the situation of people at risk in conflict situations. Drawing on a range of case studies, the paper offers alternatives for ways to link human rights, conflict reduction and the provision of resources to populations ‘at risk’ in conflict settings.

Mark Bradbury, “Normalising the Crisis in Africa”, Disasters, 22,4, 1998
The article provides a critique of the view that complex emergencies in Africa are fundamentally internal crises. It argues that donors have placed both political and developmental responsibility on local communities without accepting how external economic and political factors have often fueled ‘internal’ conflicts. While ‘developmental relief’ has been promoted as an improvement on preceding emergency relief models, the author argues that the end result is the distancing of both major donor governments and multilateral organizations from the increased suffering and distress of low income countries and communities.

Jayrat Chopra, (ed.) The Politics of Peace Maintenance, Lynne Rienner, 1998
This volume explores the debates about the legitimacy and effectiveness of peace maintenance. The fifty years of operations since the end of World War II provide a wide scope for exploring diplomatic, humanitarian and military actions that have sought to create or sustain peace agreements. The authors outline what are the key elements for likely success and integrate theories and experiences in such areas as political authority, civil administration and external authority.

Michael Cranna, (ed), The True Cost of Conflict, Earthscan with Saferworld, 1994
This collection of studies outlines the human and economic costs of warfare in cases such as Mozambique, Sudan, East Timor, Peru and former Yugoslavia. It promotes a view that the gains made by OECD countries that sell arms are overwhelmed by the losses, both in human terms and the relief and rehabilitation assistance provided after conflicts. The studies make a commendable effort at calculating the costs of each conflict in terms of short and long term losses.

Mark Duffield, “Complex Emergencies and the Crisis of Developmentalism”, IDS Bulletin, 25.4, October 1994
The author provides one of the first post Cold War assessments of the connections between spreading political failures and complex emergencies. The paper criticizes relief agencies and NGOs for their lack of political analysis of the causes of these emergencies, and argues that many are still locked in to a ‘disaster’ response mindset. The instinctive response of these agencies is to take a linear approach to relief with the assumption that there is a clear path back to development and normal times.

Deborah Eade, (ed.), From Conflict to Peace in a Changing World: Social Reconstruction in Times of Transition, Oxfam Working Paper,
The volume includes eight papers on humanitarianism and conflict, and an additional twelve papers from a symposium, “Building Bridges in Southern Africa: Conflict, Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Times of Change”. The symposium was held in 1966 under the auspices of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and Oxfam’s South Africa office. The papers point towards more complex and difficult issues for NGOs seeking to work in humanitarian situations, reminding them that increasingly there are deeply structured aspects of violence that undermine their good intentions. Several papers also seek to draw lessons from the peace processes in Central America and their application to the connections between peace and justice in Africa, as well as the role of NGOs and other agencies.

Milton J. Esman, “Can Foreign Aid Moderate Ethnic Conflict”, Peaceworks No. 13, United Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C., May 1997
The international aid system was developed in the 1940s to bring development assistance in its various forms to low-income countries. Generally, the dichotomy between economic aid and emergency relief meant that the relationship between the aid system and ethnic conflict meant that relatively little attention was given the positive or negative impacts of assistance. This paper examines the obstacles and options facing donors in regards to how their aid programs could reduce conflict and also develop more candid assessment tools for assessing the context of their assistance.

Ted Robert Gurr, “Minorities at Risk: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflicts”, United States Institute for Peace, 1993
The author provides a survey of over 200 politically active groups and explores how and why certain identities or communal interests are more likely to lead to conflict. The paper points out the complex ways in which language, religious beliefs, shared history or customs create particular forms of identity. The paper offers recommendations on ways to reduce ethnic conflict through such approaches as power-sharing mechanisms, forms of autonomy for different groups, and the design of pluralist systems.

Jonathan Goodhand, “Violent Conflict, Poverty and Chronic Poverty”, INTRAC, May 2001, Chronic Poverty Research Centre Working Paper 6
This paper is part of a series of publications that came out of studies that were developed for the Chronic Poverty Research Centre. The paper explored the linkages between poverty and conflict, with an emphasis on rural livelihoods and how they are affected in various ways by different macro and micro forms of conflict. The paper seeks to show that poverty and conflict are connected through a two way set of variables. It further examines the ‘greed’ and ‘grievance’ arguments concerning how access to or control over various resources can fuel conflict. It also assesses the ways in which donors respond to poverty and conflict in practice.

Humanitarianism and War Project, Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University
This project was originated at Brown University, where it was managed from 1991 to 2000. It was one of the first research groups that brought together academics and practitioners to address post Cold War conflicts. It collaborated with other agencies to produce a wide range of books, articles, reports and journal articles that remain an invaluable set of resources. Its reports are still available on its website at Brown University. Many of the goals of the project have been carried forward into an equally cross-disciplinary program at the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts University. The Humanitarianism and War Project archives can be found at http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hw/ The International Famine Center site can be found at http://famine.tufts.edu/

Swanee Hunt and Cristina Posa, “Women Waging Peace”, Foreign Policy
The authors point to the lack of inclusion of women in the negotiation and implementation of peace agreements. They promote an approach to ‘inclusive security’, which emphasizes women as actors, not victims. The essay identifies a range of levels where women could take a far more active role in peace making and post-conflict initiatives. It includes the marvelous quote, “allowing men who plan wars to plan peace is a bad habit.”

Goran Hyden, “Post-war Reconciliation and Democratization: Concepts, Goals and Lessons Learnt”, paper for seminar on After War: Reconciliation and Democratization in Divided Societies: Lessons Learned, 27-29 March 2000, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway, WP 2000: 8
The paper seeks to draw lessons from efforts made at building democratic forms of governance in ‘divided societies’. The main issues that the paper addresses are structured around four questions: why has the number of intra-state conflicts risen in recent years; what is the nature and extent of the divisions that underlie these conflicts; how relevant or realistic have external policy interventions been; what are the challenges to obtaining greater local involvement in democratization. The author concludes with an assessment of legitimating public institutions and strengthening local institutions for governance.

International Committee of the Red Cross, Basic Rules of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, ICRC, 1983
This short booklet provides the best summary of the basic foundations of International Humanitarian Law. The material presents the agreements that have been developed over the past 150 years that relate to the protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, World Disasters Report, IFRC, Geneva
The annual report of the IFRC provides an overview of various humanitarian crises, including Complex Political Emergencies. The IFRC has been increasingly willing to address the issues of violence and aid in its reports, and has sought to present to the donor community some well structured assessments of country experiences.

Kees Kingma and Kiflemariam Grebrewold, “Demilitarization, Reintegration and Conflict Prevention in the Horn of Africa”, Saferworld and Bonn International Center for Conversion, July 1988, London
Discussion paper represents part of Saferworld’s two-year research project on “Prevention of Violent Conflict and the Coherence of EU Policies Towards the Horn of Africa Countries.” The paper examines the links between post-war demilitarization and reintegration of ex-combatants, refugees, and internally displaced people in the countries of the Horn of Africa. It assesses the risk factors that might lead to further violent conflict in the region. In the context of these issues, it analyses EU work in both post-conflict demilitarization and conflict reduction.

Jeni Klugman, “Social and Economic Policies to Prevent Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: Lessons from Experience”, WIDER, Policy Brief No. 2
The paper explores the lessons of different approaches to addressing complex humanitarian emergencies. In particular, it seeks to separate out “root causes, triggers and manifestations” the CHEs. It emphasizes that every CHE has particular factors that combine to create overt conflict, and that it is important to bring together an analysis of the different factors for policy making. One policy prescription is unlikely to effectively address the inter-related dynamics that underlie specific CHEs.

Joanna Macrae, “Rearranging the Deck Chairs? Reforming the UN’s Responses to Humanitarian Crises”, RRN Newsletter, Relief and Rehabilitation Network, London
The author assesses the changes made within the UN system in the second half of the 1990s that sought to bring greater coherence and clearer decision making into the international humanitarian system. The competing mandates of UN departments and specialized agencies has yet to be resolved by these changes.

Joanna Macrae and Anthony Zwi, (ed), War and Hunger: Rethinking International Responses to Complex Emergencies, Zed Books, 1994
This edited volume brings together many of the key thinkers (Hugo Slim, Mark Duffield, Alex de Waal) who have opened up new approaches to complex emergencies. The papers make clear the deeply political nature of complex emergencies, as well as the links to failed development goals. The inability of donors, including NGOs, to apprehend the political and economic factors seriously affects both the short term impact and long term implications of assistance programs. Most of the case studies are from Africa, and the authors highlight the need for giving high priority to local institutions and structures.

David Milwood ,(ed), The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: lessons from the Rwanda Experience, Steering Committee of the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda (5 volumes), 1996
This commendable study is unusual as an effort funded by bilateral donors that is frank and critical of most of the players involved (or absent) in the Rwanda genocide. The study identifies both the underlying causes of the Rwandan conflict, and highlights in detail the failures of the larger OECD governments and the UN system, including the Security Council and the Secretary General. The role of NGOs also comes under critical scrutiny. A central value of the study is the way it identifies which actions and decisions were taken during the critical time period of the conflict, and avoids the commonplace bureaucratic obfuscation of such reports.

Larry Minear, “Humanitarian Action and Peacekeeping Operations”, Background paper for UNITAR/ISP/NIRA conference, February 24-26, 1997, Humanitarianism and War Project, Brown University
The paper identifies key policy issues that exist due to the complex relationships between humanitarian actions and peacekeeping operations. Based on the HWP research projects, it identifies six issues that range from the obstacles within the UN system for peacekeeping mandates to the operational mandates of different agencies.

Terence Loone Mooney, ed., The Challenge of Development within Conflict Zones, OECD, 1995
This book provides a report on an OECD colloquium that was held in 1994, with three major papers along with a summary essay and a conclusion. The book includes a conceptual piece on issues of development in conflict situations, as well as the different mandates of donor agencies and operational NGOs. Other papers look at the challenges of international support for societies emerging from conflict and the opportunities for improving the linkages between conflict reduction and development.

Caroline Moser and Sarah Lister, ed., “Violence and Social Capital”, Latin America and Caribbean Region, Sustainable Development Working Paper No. 5, World Bank, 1999
Explores linkages between social and economic deprivation and the causes of violence in Latin America. Identifies research that points to dimensions of poverty that are related to high community rates of violence, including high concentrations of poverty, transience of population, family disruption, crowded housing, weak social structures and presence of opportunities associated with violence. Outlines range of actions that can be undertaken to interrupt the cycles of violence at the community level.

Rakiya Omar and Alex de Waal, “Humanitarianism Unbound? Current Dilemmas facing Multi-mandate Relief Operations in Political Emergencies”, Discussion Paper No. 5, Africa Rights, London
One of the first major critiques of the links between humanitarian agencies and the politics of relief assistance. The authors argue that these agencies allow the G7 and other external governments to put a ‘humanitarian fig leaf’ over the political causes of complex emergencies. They question the role of NGOs and other humanitarian actors who engage in political actions which are both naïve and unaccountable. The paper provides recommendations on providing agencies with clarity on their operational principles and their fundamental ethical premises.

Amir Pasic and Thomas G. Weiss, “The Politics of Rescue: Yugoslavia’s Wars and the Humanitarian Impulse”, Ethics and International Affairs, 11, 1997
The international humanitarian system faced a severe crisis in the first of the 1990s. The failure to prevent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and genocide in Rwanda led to widespread criticism of the humanitarian impulse (cf. de Waal, Anderson and Duffield). This essay explores the nature of humanitarian action and the limits that had emerged in ethnic conflicts such as the former Yugoslavia. It seeks to set out an agenda for practitioners that can maintain the values of the humanitarian impulse while

Robert Rotberg and Thomas Weiss(ed.), From Massacre to Genocide: the Media, Public Policy and Humanitarian Crises, Cambridge (Brookings and World Peace Foundation), 1996
What is the relationship between the media and responses to international crises? The mid-1990s were a time when the so-called “CNN effect” was deemed to significantly drive and shape the policy responses of the G7 and the UN. This collection looks more deeply at how well-informed media attention can promote policies that are coherent and grounded in situation analysis. It explores how NGOs and other organizations can relate to the media coverage and link this to policy development.

Kumar Rupesinghe (ed), Ethnic Conflict and Human Rights, UN University, 1994
This volume is based on a seminar held in 1986, which was one of the first international gatherings to address what became increasingly pressing issues in the 1990s. The papers focused attention on the relationship between ethnic conflicts and human rights issues, and read now as unfortunately ahead of the issues that became more manifest in the following years. The contributors assess issues of conflict resolution, as well as the different elements, including legal, that can be used for reducing the costs of conflict.

Hugo Slim, “The Continuing Metamorphosis of the Humanitarian Professional: Some New Colors for an Endangered Chameleon”, Disasters, 19, 2, 1995
An exceptionally insightful look at the conflicting mandates and organizational challenges facing relief workers and relief agencies. The author points out that both organizational mandates and professional skills need to be reassessed in the context of intra-state conflicts. The very nature of humanitarian work needs to be reconsidered for both humanitarian and developmental reasons.

David R. Smock, editor, , “Creative Approaches to Managing Conflict in Africa: Findings from USIP-Funded Projects”, United States Institute for Peace, 1997
This collection brings together reports from USIP funded projects that were developed in the first half of the 1990s in response to the spread of Complex Political Emergencies. The short summaries provide an overview of projects ranging from new forms of diplomacy to NGOs involved in conflict prevention to the training of peace makers. The booklet provides a wide range of ideas and approaches that can be adapted by Non-Governmental Organizations and international public agencies.

Nicholas Stockton, “In Defence of Humanitarianism”, Disasters, 22, 4, 1998
The criticisms of the humanitarian ethos as providing aid and resources to warlords and conflicts confuses short and long term factors. The attention to local solutions presumes that the causes of internal wars are not as much due to external (……….) factors as to internal structures and relations. The author argues that while humanitarianism does not substitute for political action, this misreads the Join Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, which promoted a coherent set of policy responses, not the humanitarian versus the political.

Jeremy Swift, (ed.), “War and Rural Development in Africa”, IDS Bulletin, 27, 3 July 1996
This special issue of the IDS Bulletin brings together a range of essays on areas of conflict and development in Africa. The authors cover large areas such as the nature of humanitarianism and peacekeeping and gender perspectives to livestock raiding and conflict management approaches to pastoralist societies.

UNRSID, “Ethnic Violence: Conflict Resolution and Cultural Pluralism”, Geneva 1995
Report on 1994 conference exploring linkages between ethnicity and ethnic conflict. Ethnicity is not a static category---ethnic conflict is not ‘inevitable’ nor is it ‘centuries old’. How to promote conflict resolution mechanisms, especially when conflicts are often about scarce resources or political access and governance mechanisms?

United States Agency for International Development and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, “The Role of Foreign Assistance in Conflict Prevention”, Conference Report, January 2001
The conference report summarizes work undertaken by a diverse range of participants who sought to identify positive roles for foreign assistance in conflict prevention. In the admittedly complex and imperfect information and analysis that is available to policy makers and donor agencies, the report outlines approaches to addressing underlying causes of conflict. It also summarizes a range of policy tools and options that could be utilized to prevent or reduce conflict.

Peter Uvin, Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda. Kumarian Press, 1998
This important book examines the connections between and the development strategies pursued by donor agencies in Rwanda. It explores the origins of the genocide in a county that received wide donor support in the years prior to 1994. Uvin explores the parallels between the emergence of increased ethnic conflict and the aid regime that most likely fueled rather than alleviated sources of violence and political contestations. The book is a sobering assessment of how aid can increase the power and lack of accountability of a political elite that is willing to use violence to maintain power.

Wartorn Societies Project, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development
The Wartorn Societies Project developed a number of research programs and consultations from 1994 to 1998. It organized a number of country studies that utilized in-country researchers to assess the options and opportunities for rebuilding societies in post-conflict situations. The project’s research produced a number of studies that are available on the UNRSID site http://www.unrisd.org/. The project supported various participatory action-research methods to address ways of integrating initiatives in a more cohesive structure.

Barbara F. Walter, “Designing Transitions from Violent Civil War”, IGCC Policy Paper #31, December 1997, Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California
Paper examines problem of why negotiations amongst civil war combatants often fail even after compromises have been reached. It considers whether the problem is lack of commitment to settlement or inability to reach mutual agreement. It then proposes the explanation that in many cases, the fear of vulnerability to attack during demobilization and the distrust of power sharing agreements are more likely causes. These two factors have major implications for international agencies seeking to promote the end of civil wars.

Crawford Young, “Ethnic Diversity and Public Policy: An Overview”, UNRISD Occasional Paper No. 8, World Summit for Social Development, 1994
The paper summarizes the findings of the research project on “Ethnic Diversity and Public Policies”, which explored different policies for resolving ethnic conflicts and creating methods for peaceful accommodation of ethnic diversity. The author emphasized that cultural pluralism is a central factor in societies and that ethnic identities do not disappear with various forms of modernization. Ethnic identity is normal and will be reaffirmed in response to the globalization trends, it will only induce violent conflict when mobilized and manipulated by internal leaders or the activities or other groups.

Crawford Young, “The Search for Identity: Ethnicity, Religion and Political Violence”, UNRISD, Occasional Paper No. 6, World Summit for Social Development, 1994
The paper brings together several research projects on ethnicity, policy, violence and social movements. It assesses the increasing significance of ethnic and religious conflicts amidst the trends towards global integration. The tensions between economic integration and greater emphasis on ethnic and religious identity has led to conflicts that rend social fabrics and undermine economic gains. The paper examines how ethnicity and religion are mobilized for social movements, how violence emerges in social conflicts, and the policy options for resolving or managing different forms of conflict.

To print this page, select "Print" from the File menu of your browser.