Accommodation of Interstate Minority Conflicts in Eastern Europe

Project Leader Mats Hammarström, Associate Professor

Project Period

2003-2004

Project Description

With the dramatic collapse of the Soviet Union many observers expected an escalation of the tensions between East European states over their long-standing, unresolved national minority problems. Yet, not only did these states remain at peace with each other; some of them managed to reach accommodation at an early stage and hence successfully prevented future escalation. This is a puzzling outcome that deserves the attention of students of conflict prevention. Few studies exist, however, and they focus almost exclusively on a successful case (Romania vs. Hungary).

This project includes thirteen interstate national minority disputes in Eastern Europe 1991-1996 and compares the successful and unsuccessful cases. I argue that conflict prevention succeeded when both contending parties were able to credibly commit to link the national minority issue to the long-term project of joining the European Union and adopting its peace policy.

Competing approaches suggested in previous studies, such as liberal institutionalism and democratic peace, are found to have less explanatory power than the specific version of the credible commitment approach developed in this study. The project attempts to identify more general implications of its findings for the study of conflict prevention.

Publications

Hammarström, Mats: Accommodation of Interstate Ethnic Conflicts in Eastern Europe: Do International Institutions and Democracy Matter? Paper for the 4t Pan European IR Conference, Canterbury, 8-10 Sept. 2001

Heldt, Birger, and Mats Hammarström, 2001. Nationalism, Democracy, and Accommodation of Interstate Ethnic Conflict. Paper presented at the Uppsala Conference on Conflict Data, Uppsala, Sweden, 8-9 June.

Other Project Activities

Seminars under the auspices of International Peace research institute, Oslo (PRIO)

Main Financial Support

Joint Committee of the Nordic Social Science Research Councils

Useful Links

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)