This proposal presents a plan for the study of how inter-ethnic conflicts develop in newly decolonized countries around the world. The preliminary literature review shows that these states have volatile constitutions and the poor or non-existent separation of powers causes the country to marginalize its minority ethnic groups. This leads to failed policies on integration and the homogeneity of the military. The poor and unresponsive intervention of the Executive arm of government in a bad situation causes minorities to pick up arms and seek their right.
This paper proposes that the findings of the preliminary literature review be tested on five countries that experienced inter-ethnic conflicts in the past 30 years. This will include a qualitative analysis that will critique the features of the events that led to the conflicts in the five countries. This will be done through a case study that will lead to the formulation of a theory based on the confirmation or rejection of the hypotheses created from the literature review.
After the end of the Second World War, several nations around the world with numerous different ethnic groups became independent and were incorporated into single modern nations. This was influenced by the old colonial boundaries that were drawn by the imperial powers that ruled these nations before the end of the Second World War. After 1945, several nations in Asia and the Middle East became independent. The right to self-determination led to the creation of numerous young nations by 1960 when most nations in Africa and Asia were decolonized. However, one thing these nations had in common included the fact that most of these nations contained different ethnic groups that could qualify as a “people” under self determination laws
The East-West Cold War that ensued after the 1950s led to a trend where the US and the West sought to expand their influence around the world whilst the Soviets and the East also infiltrated nations with Marxism. In effect, ethnic groups reignited pre-colonial hatred through alignment with one of the two dominant sides of the Cold War. This is usually due to the political structures and systems and how it affects and deals with the rights and demands of the different people in the nation.
Therefore, this research will examine the relationship between political structures and inter-ethnic conflicts in the multi-ethnic countries of the world. This will involve a critical review of how political structures and constitutional systems as well as the governing elite’s plans and how it affects the interests of the different ethnic groups in the country.
The aim of the research is to examine the fundamental research questions: “Do some political structures promote inter-ethnic conflicts in states?”. In order to attain this end, there will be the examination of the following objectives:
A critical review and examination of the extent to which the separation of powers of the constitution guarantees the fair and equal treatment of all ethnic groups;
An assessment of how a democratic country slips into violent conflict based on ethnic tensions;
An evaluation of how the executive power is applied to protect the minorities in crucial and critical points.
Critical Literature Review
There have been numerous studies in the basis and roots of conflicts around the world. One of the studies indicates that centralized constitutional designs are not complemented by liberal institutions that guide the separation of powers. Evidence shows that in many countries with volatile systems and structures, there is an involvement and firm control of the military by a few powerful and dominant individuals who have unfettered powers.
Another symptom of issues with true separation of powers is the fact that mobilization and integration policies break down at some point and this lays the foundation for inter-ethnic violence and conflict. This is because the poor control of affairs and the inability to guarantee the rights of the minority ethnic groups leads to a situation whereby the weaker ethnic groups tend to feel excluded. This is the main motivation and basis for the pursuit of armed conflict as a means of seeking social justice against the dominant ethnic group.
Some countries have constitutions that have guaranteed the rights of all the different ethnic groups through agreements that are recognized in law at national and regional levels. This implies that there is a matrix structure that complements the separation of powers with the hope of ensuring that all groups are properly represented.
In cases of lapses and weaknesses, it is apparent and impending on the Executive or the Presidency to take emergency actions to fix problems. This is because the Executive is vested with power to take immediate action to stop negative things. Hence, the level of reactivity of the Executive to dealing with issues as they come up can ensure whether or not a country can live above conflicts or not. This is because where the president does not get to deal with issues, these issues might get out of hand and lead to major humanitarian issues that can promote conflicts in these countries.
It must also be noted that the president of every country or head of state has an obligation to act objectively for the betterment of the entire society. This means that all the units and aspects of the Executive branch which includes the Cabinet must be made to work for the entire society and for all groups and ethnic communities in the country. In cases where the president fails to live up to expectations, or openly supports one group against another, there is a general sense of anger and dissatisfaction and this leads to the need to pick up arms and protect the interest of the marginalized group. Therefore, in order to prevent the negative actions and violence, there is the need for a president who is seen to be neutral and promotes equality and fairness.
Therefore, the analysis of the literature shows a systematic relationship between the constitution and its ability to protect all the citizens through the separation of powers. There is also the need for these institutions to actually work to achieve the best interest of all ethnic groups in a given nation to ensure that inter-ethnic conflicts are avoided and national integrity is enhanced and promoted through all reasonable and logical means.
The findings of the literature review create a systematic pattern that forms the basis for the formulation of a theory on how armed conflicts occur on the basis of ethnic lines. This is because in an ideal case scenario, certain things must occur in order to ensure that all ethnic groups are satisfied, and when these fail, there is dissatisfaction and an armed conflict follows.
First of all, it can be theorized that the constitution must operate properly and it must ensure that all the minorities within a nation are protected at all levels of government. It is when this fails that there is the motivation to enter armed conflict to seize power.
Secondly, the existence of a constitution is not enough. The constitution can only be enforced and safeguarded if institutions are properly functional through the principle of separation of powers. The absence of separation of powers leads to the override of authority and this cause one group to dominate and gain so much power. This further marginalizes a divided country and causes tensions to rise which eventually lead to wars and other forms of conflicts.
Thirdly, the absence of the separation of powers and proper constitutional safeguards causes some dominant individual or individuals to control the military. Due to the control of the military, firepower in the country comes under a group of people and this might be detrimental to the nation’s future because the legitimate institution meant to control power is under the command of one minority group. Hence, the normal thing is that the military will be abused and used to crack down on people with dissenting views. And the only way to deal with this is to form illegal military groups to protect the marginalized minority and this almost always leads to war and conflicts which gain international attention and some kind of settlement in the conflict or disagreement.
Fourthly, in the civilian sense, there are some failed policies to mobilize the different interest groups in the country. This is because there are programs and institutions that do not readily accept certain people. Hence, those people end up becoming marginalized and they have only one option of fighting or using force to register their case.
Finally, where the Executive or the Head of State and his cabinet fails to take appropriate action to address the gaps involving these issues, there is a major conflict and this leads to war and destruction. The head of state is tasked with protecting all citizens. When they fail or appear to be biased, there is chaos and the country falls into a civil war based on ethnic differences.
On the basis of the pointers identified above, there will be three hypotheses that will be tested in this study and they are:
H1: Ethic conflicts are avoided when there is a functional and all-inclusive constitution that operates on the basis of the separation of powers;
H2: Democratic countries shift into ethnic conflicts when the separation of powers is breached, inclusive policies fail and there is homogeneity in the military
H3: The absence of timely action by the Executive Arm of government to promote inclusion and national integrity complicates the situation which leads to an all out ethnic conflict.
Research Design: Qualitative
The research will be conducted in a qualitative format. This means the study will examine the facts of a situation through observation and deduce important trends and pointers in order to draw a conclusion. This will lead to the formulation of a logical conclusion on the matter
Data will be collected by a critical review of the history of 5 inter-ethnic conflicts around the world to support an exploratory case study. The conflicts that will be covered are:
The Bosnian War (1991 – 1995);
The Lebanon War (1982 – 1987);
The Somalian War (1987-1995)
Sudan Darfur War (2008 – Present);
Yemeni Conflict (2014 – Present)
Data about the history and the trends in these wars will be examined from journals and books in order to give an account of how these wars commenced, and the main factors that led to them.
The study will be done through an exploratory case study of these five conflicts. The trends leading to the war will be examined individually in an absolute sense. This will show the pre-war constitution and its content. Questions about whether a constitution existed and how well the constitution operated will be examined through a literature review. The elements of separation of powers and the realistic problems and challenges that led to the war will be reconciled with the hypotheses that were presented in all situations.
The main elements of national hegemony and national identity will be reviewed in the data analysis. The elements of domination of powers by individual groups and failures of specific individuals tasked with roles will be noted. This will be complemented by the different trends in the way the military operated in these situations and how the military reacted to some realities.
Finally, the failures of the President or leader in the situation will be examined and how it contributed to the conflict will be reviewed. This will lead to the identification of major observations about how the issues and the earliest signs of conflict were handled and the effectiveness of these measures.
The analysis of the case studies will lead to the formulation of conclusions about how national affairs broke down for ethnic demands and expectations to take over and achieve more prominence than state affairs. The interpretations will show the major trends and the most important pointers that relate to the most accurate and the most important trends in each of the five cases. Afterwards, there will be the comparison of all the five cases across the three hypotheses in order to draw a conclusion on whether the hypothesis is confirmed or not. In cases where the three or more countries conformed to the hypothesis, it will be confirmed. If less than three confirm, it will be critiqued further and a conclusion will be drawn on that aspect of the study.
This proposal has outlined the core elements of inter-ethnic violence in developing countries around the world. It shows that there is empirical evidence that most of these countries in the global south have weak constitutions and due to poor checks and balances of the arms of government and failed national integration policies as well as homogeneity in the military, the minorities go to war to assert their rights. The poor handling of these indicators by the presidency leads to conflicts. This study proposes to study five inter-ethnic conflicts since the 1980s through a series of case studies to test the three main hypotheses made in this proposal.
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