Civil Wars, Intrastate Violence, and International Responses

Executive Summary

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Civil Wars, Violence, and International Responses

Since the end of the Cold War, intrastate violence and civil wars have increasingly posed threats to regional stability in various areas of the world. Military intervention, economic assistance, and robust diplomacy have yet to solve the many problems associated with failed states. At the same time, China’s global exposure—in terms of trade, investment, and number of citizens living abroad—has increased dramatically. It has growing equities in states that are experiencing or at risk of political instability and domestic unrest. It is within this context that the idea for a joint U.S. and PRC workshop was conceived, as a way of helping Chinese, American, and other international scholars better understand each other’s perspectives regarding civil wars and intrastate violence. From October 22–23, 2018, the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative (USASI) at Stanford University, in conjunction with the Institute for China-U.S. People-to-People Exchange at Peking University and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), gathered scholars and policy practitioners at the Stanford Center at Peking University to participate in the “Civil Wars, Intrastate Violence, and International Responses” workshop. The workshop was an extension of a project examining the threats posed by intrastate warfare launched in 2015 and led by AAAS and Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. The goal of this workshop was to facilitate frank discussions exposing participants to a wide range of views on intrastate violence and international responses. The workshop was divided into sessions that assessed trends in intrastate violence since the end of the Cold War, examined the threats to international security posed by civil wars and intrastate violence, and assessed international responses, including an analysis of the limits of intervention and a discussion of policy recommendations. Participants also had an opportunity to make closing comments and recommendations for future research. The workshop featured a keynote dinner address by Ambassador Fu Ying, chief expert of the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and former PRC vice foreign minister. There was also a lunch talk by Major General Xu Hui, Commandant of the International College of Defence Studies at the PLA National Defence University. The discussions among the participants were candid and wide-ranging. On many issues there was disagreement, but a better appreciation of different viewpoints emerged as the workshop progressed. A summary of the discussions, by session and on a non-attribution basis, can be found in the main body of this report.