Internal Conflict and Regional Security in South Asia: Approaches, Perspectives and Policies

Internal Conflict and Regional Security in South Asia: Approaches, Perspectives and Policies

Internal Conflict and Regional Security in South Asia: Approaches, Perspectives and Policies

Internal Conflict and Regional Security in South Asia: Approaches, Perspectives and Policies

Excerpt

The social, political and economic development of South Asia has been seriously hindered by internal, or intra-state conflicts. The region is one of the most ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse, as well as most populous, in the world. However, it is also host to deeply entrenched ethnic hostility, communal violence and numerous wars, both inter- and intra-state. Some of these conflicts, such as those in Kashmir and Sri Lanka, are well documented, while many others receive minimal attention.

The aim of this paper is to provide a more effective framework for the analysis and management of internal conflict and security. It does so with reference to the most populous region of the world, namely South Asia. The paper conducts a brief review of secondary material on internal conflicts in the region in order to ascertain broad patterns. It is argued that internal conflicts pose serious challenges for analysts and policy makers alike because they are complex and heterogeneous. A multidimensional framework is proposed for the analysis of internal conflict. This analytical framework is based upon a view of conflict as a situation where parties are unable to resolve their differences within existing institutional mechanisms. Conflict management, consequently, is seen as the process of bringing parties into agreed institutional settings. It is argued that this analytical framework can also serve as a tool for conflict management and can be formalized in the shape of a “Peace Commission”. The paper discusses the broad issues in the design of a Peace Commission, and proposes some specific short-to-medium term actions that can be taken as interim steps by states, individuals and civil societies.

The paper is organized into four sections. Section 1 provides an introduction to the region of South Asia, to the salient problems of conflict and security, and to the approach and methodology adopted by this study. Section 2 reports on the current status of internal conflicts in the region, and attempts to identify broad patterns and themes that might provide insight into prospects for conflict management. The section also discusses the impact of internal conflict upon both the immediately affected communities and the wider society. Section 3 outlines a conceptual . . .

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