Fall 2016

From Armed Conflict to Political Violence: Mapping & Explaining Conflict Trends

Keith Krause

Most contemporary lethal violence does not occur in conflict zones, the majority of states most affected by lethal violence are not at war, and the levels of lethal violence in many nonconflict settings are higher than in war zones. Much of this nonwar violence is organized, not random, and political in nature. A narrow focus on wars and formal armed conflicts thus obscures the high levels of everyday violence and insecurity around the world. This essay makes the case that adopting a broad understanding of political violence – including violence committed by the state and its agents, and nonphysical violence as the violation of basic rights – is essential to gain insight into the causes and consequences of, and to frame appropriate responses to, war and violence in the twenty-first century.

KEITH KRAUSE is Professor of International Relations and Political Science and Director of the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding at The Graduate Institute, Geneva. His publications include The Global Burden of Armed Violence 2011: Lethal Encounters (2011), Armed Groups and Contemporary Conflicts: Challenging the Weberian State (2010), Critical Security Studies (1997), and Arms and the State: Patterns of Military Production and Trade(1992).

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