An ethnic conflict is also called ethnic war at times and is usually the term used when referring to particularly armed conflict, or at times, war between two or more ethnic groups. This is usually contrasted with the civil wars where the major difference arises at the number of parties involved. The civil wars involve only a single nation or at times, a single ethnic group that is fighting within itself, in other words, it only includes one party. One undeniable fact is that the world is a pool of diverse ethnic societies that differ in almost every aspect of their lives ranging from culture, religion to even the languages. What is worse is that the ethnic clashes have continuously, through time, thrown the world into chaos. In actuality, causes of ethnic conflicts can be rooted in the history and at the same time, there exist causes of ethnic conflicts in the modern world.
The roots of ethnic conflicts
Ethnic conflict is a mind-boggling that people face every now and then all over the world, including the developed countries like America. Ethnicity eventually results into racism and vice versa. Many racial conflicts have occurred on the American soil and still, up to now, it is still at peak. In United States, the black Americans fought against the white Americans from time to time due to the racial aspects and the urge of superiority that the whites think they have over the blacks. In this case, the roots are buried deep in the history that the blacks had under the American hands. In the past, as it is known, the blacks were slaves that were shipped across the ocean from their homeland in Africa to Europe and America as mere slaves (Herndon 333).
However, after countless years of untold suffering, the blacks were liberated from slavery and became free as citizens of the American society but this idea of free negroes roaming the streets as their equals was not welcomed by all and so racism, or in another term, ethnicity arose and up to now, it has plagued the American soil ever since.
Ethnic clashes are all over the world, but Africa is still among those continents that has experienced and is still experiencing this plague up to today. In their past, Africans still fought against each other due to the very many ethnic groups present in Africa, for instance, Kenya alone possesses up to 44 ethnic groups. The white man’s arrival to colonize them still found them fighting each other for power and more territory. The arrival of the white man only spiced things up because he brought technology that made fighting easier, for instance, the guns that could kill over a longer distance than the normal range of a spear.
Ethnic disparities in Balkan region started in the year 1945 after the division of the Yugoslavia into six particular republics that were ruled by communists and this was done by Josip Broz Tito. Five of those divisions were actually the homeland of different nations that the Yugoslav government officially recognized and after the death of Tito, the whole Balkan region was in deep tension. Since almost all the six divisions developed as separate entities, a war broke out with regards to the succession of the Yugoslav government and these conflicts are usually remembered as the wars of Yugoslav succession and they majorly took place between 1991 and 1999 (Mojzes 3).
Causes of contemporary ethnic clashes
Contemporary Ethnic conflicts are not really caused by a specific problem but then, their causal elements are actually multi-dimensional and they may occur as a combination of either political or institutional factors, socioeconomic factors or, resource and environmental factors (Blagojevic 5). These factors notably, may result in either a cause or the impact of the conflict but the primary focus of this case is the causes. Political and institutional factors include the state’s instability of that particular country as a result of the weak institutions established by the state. For instance, the power void in Sudan as a result of the cold war that ended in 2005 resulted in ethnic clashes since these ethnic groups seek that power for their own people (foreignaffairs.com). Another aspect in this regard of political and institutional factors, is the power struggles that occurred in Africa, Middle East and even Asia as a result of their colonization. Thus, the legacies that were established their resulted in some leaders who continued the same kind of dynamics resulting in ethnic conflicts every now and then.
Socioeconomic factors that could have led to ethnic conflicts include inequality, marginalization, exclusion and poverty. Inequality is one of the most recognized social factors that cause ethnic conflicts and arises when a particular ethnic group within the same confines is found to be favored more than others in regards to aspects of political, social and economic realms not forgetting the cultural aspects. Marginalization and exclusions imply that the ethnic group is actually left out in regards to the realms mentioned and as a result, violence can result. On the other hand, poverty and ethnic conflicts are directly associated given that many conflicts occur in developing third world countries including Kenya and Somalia. This poverty may result in conflict but usually not on its own but instead, in association with other social factors. Also, other contexts depict that poverty; at its extreme can result in mobilization and motivation for conflict.
Finally, environmental insecurity and scarcity of resources, implies another group of factors that could cause conflict in our contemporary world. In the developing countries, the scarcity of resources is a primary cause of ethnic conflict between the ethnic societies within the same countries. It is vital to note that the scarcities that the world faces today in relation to resources are mainly due to the adverse environmental changes such as drought that result in deaths. As a result, conflicts over the little resources available give rise to the ethnic culture due to the scarce resources. Due to the little that is present, conflict over that little arises. More vital is the fact that the climate changes do not cause conflict by itself but then it results in competition for those particular resources until the conflict over the remaining resources arises. In other words, conflict is unavoidable when there is scarcity and even when there was already a skirmish; the clash bound to worsen further.
The ethnic conflicts of the contemporary world started long time ago and it has escalated through those times disregarded until this century where all hell has broken loose with countries such as Sudan and Syria which are in constant wars and conflicts. In other words, the history is a potent determinant of ethnic conflicts. Also, the ethnic clashes are caused by several factors including exclusions, marginalization, environmental scarcity of resources, as well as poor climatic conditions but they are categorized into classes, that is, political factors, social factors and environmental factors. In summary, these factors may be direct determinants of ethnic clashes such as weak institutions within the political systems but also, they could be indirect, which implies they affect other factors which in turn causes ethnic clashes. In a nutshell, ethnic clashes have typical causes that need to be understood by the relevant authorities for them to be able to be a step forward towards stopping or eradicating it totally.
Blagojevic, Bojana. “Causes of ethnic conflict: A conceptual framework.” Journal of Global Change and Governance 3.1 (2009): 1-25. Print.
HERNDON, LISA. "Why Racial Injustice Is Still Permitted In The United States?: An International Human Rights Perspective On The United States' Inadequate Compliance With The International Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Racial Discrimination." Wisconsin International Law Journal 31.2 (2013): 322-351. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.
Mojzes, Paul. “Ethnic Cleansing in the Balkans: Why did it happen and could it happen again?” Cicero Foundation Great Debate Paper 13.4 (2013): 1-13. Print.
Wimmer, Andreas. “States of War: How the Nation-State Modern Conflict.” Foreign Affairs 7 Nov. 2013. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.