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Turning Swords to Ploughshares & Little Acorns to Tall Trees: The Conflict-Growth Nexus & The Poverty of Nations

January 4, 2006 No Comment

By S. Mansoob Murshed, The Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham

The importance of the growth and intra-state conflict nexus cannot be overemphasised. The lack of growth prevents poverty reduction and the achievement of the millennium development goals. Similarly, poverty and low growth help to increase the risk of conflict, as individuals have less to lose from conflict in situations of poverty. Consequently, the security and development agendas cannot be dichotomised; the freedom from fear cannot thrive in the absence of the freedom from want. The causes of growth failure in the long-term have similarities to the causes of civil war, the most obvious being institutional failure. The recent economic history of the world provides ample evidence of diverging average incomes between rich and poor countries. This rising inequality between rich and poor nations adds considerably to global insecurity. As far as the causes of conflict are concerned, both the greed and grievance hypotheses have some validity. But the operation of either or both these motivations for civil war require the breakdown of the institutions of conflict management; something that can be described as the break-down of the social contract. The greed explanation for conflict is mainly applied in cross-country econometric studies. Its validity as a direct causal mechanism behind the risk of civil war onset has recently been brought into serious question.

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