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Abstract:

When considering strategies to address violent conflict, an enduring debate concerns the wisdom of recognizing versus avoiding reference to ethnic identities. This book asks: Under what conditions do governments manage internal violent conflicts by formally recognizing different ethnic identities? And, moreover, what are the implications for peace?  Introducing the concept of “ethnic recognition,” and building on a theory that focuses on ethnic power configurations, the book examines the merits, risks, and trade-offs of publicly recognizing ethnic groups in state institutions as compared to not doing so, on sought-after outcomes such as political inclusiveness, the decline of political violence, economic vitality, and the improvement of democracy. It draws on both global cross-national quantitative analysis of post-conflict constitutions, settlements, and institutions since 1990, as well as in-depth qualitative case studies of Burundi, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Findings show that recognition is adopted about forty percent of the time and is much more likely when the leader is from the largest ethnic group, as opposed to an ethnic minority. Moreover, all else equal, recognition promotes peace better than non-recognition under plurality leadership. Under minority leadership, peace outcomes are neither better nor worse. These findings should be of great interest to social scientists studying peace, democracy, and development, and of practical relevance to policymakers attempting to make these concepts a reality around the world.