Conflict Prevention: Path to Peace or Grand Illusion?

By David Carment; Albrecht Schnabel | Go to book overview

11
The International Monetary Fund
and conflict prevention
Dane Rowlands and Troy Joseph

Introduction

This chapter examines the role of the IMF in civil conflict. 1 It begins by reviewing the literature linking economic factors generally, and IMF programmes specifically, with civil conflict. A second section presents a statistical analysis of civil conflict with a focus on Fund activity. A review of IMF conditionality and its possible connection to conflict is then provided. Then the role of the IMF in conflict early warning, prevention, and resolution and reconstruction is discussed. A final section presents some preliminary policy lessons and outlines future research issues.

At the end of World War II, two international financial institutions were created in an attempt to promote economic development and international monetary stability. Of these, the World Bank (initially known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, currently the Bank's main constituent part) is perhaps more commonly associated with conflict due to the “reconstruction” part of its mandate, an element that has been revived since the end of the Cold War. In contrast the International Monetary Fund (the IMF, or the Fund) was (and is) limited to a fairly specialized technical role as overseer of balance of payments problems generally, and the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system specifically.

After 1973, when most industrial countries adopted flexible exchange rate arrangements, the IMF quickly saw its role evolve into a quasi-lender

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