2015 Peace, Security and Conflict Other

Causes of Communal Conflicts – Government Bias, Elites, and Conditions for Cooperation

Johan Brosche

In some regions communal conflicts lead to a few deaths or are solved before they cause any fatalities. In others, these conflicts become very violent and dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people are killed. The Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a well-known example of the latter. In other parts of the DRC, however, such conflicts occur with a much lower level of violence despite the fact that they share several structural characteristics.This study sets out to examine this variation. Three Sudanese regions will be compared: Darfur, Eastern Sudan and Greater Upper Nile. In two of them, Darfur and Greater Upper Nile, communal conflicts have killed thousands, but such conflicts have killed only a few dozen people in Eastern Sudan.

The report was presented during the seminar Conflict, sexual violence and statebuilding in Sweden´s development cooperation.

Main findings

  • Lack of resources – together with government bias – can create a disastrous combination. Under circumstances of scarcity, disputes might be frequent but these disputes can be settled peacefully when the government’s behavior is not characterized by partiality.
  • The native administration is a local institution that can be fundamental for promoting positive interrelations between communities. However, the effectiveness of this institution can be undermined if the government is biased.

Johan Brosché is an assistant professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University. He defended his dissertation Masters of War – The Role of Elites in Sudan’s Communal Conflicts at Uppsala University in February 2014.