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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 2 .


The New Agenda for Peace Research
Ho-Won Jeong ed.

(Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999).
365pp. Index. Bibl. Hb.: 60.00; ISBN 1-84014-082-8. Pb.: 25.00; ISBN 1-84014-089-5.



Although, given its nature as a collection of fifteen somewhat disparate essays, this volume does not amount to the 'conceptually coherent map' promised in the introduction, it is to be welcomed as a creative exploration of current themes in peace research. Traditional concerns such as disarmament, war prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, needs theory and non-violence are still in evidence. This reflects enduring core values: the search for ways in which actually or potentially violent conflict can be transmuted into non-violent processes of political and social change. But the whole enterprise is now set within a broader transformative agenda which looks towards the evolution of a culturally pluralistic, non-hegemonic, post-statist world order, with additional chapters on identity, self-determination, environmental security, alternative development, the emergence of regional civil societies, and the impact of globalisation and fragmentation on the state system. In a thoughtful opening chapter the editor sketches a general outline of this emancipatory programme, and refers obliquely to 'emancipatory empiricism' as a possibly unifying methodological orientation. This is not taken further, however. Chadwick Alder's pertinent chronological and functional analysis of twenty-four 'tools for peacebuilders' at the beginning is also helpful. But without a general overall summary at the end, and closer cross-referencing between authors, this promising collaborative undertaking is left more as an intriguing set of signposts than an integrated research agenda.

So far as concerns ethnic conflict, there are recurrent references throughout the book, with most contributors interpreting it more as a manifestation of political manipulation or of more general distortion in local, regional and global political economies than as a separate issue in its own right. Jennifer Jackson Preece offers the most direct analysis here in a chapter on self-determination and minority rights. Unlike most others, who see the remedy in a radical transcending of traditional statist norms, she concludes her lucid analysis by arguing that, although the 'requirements of international order and stability' must still have priority over the 'rights of ethnonational minorities', the potential of ethnic conflict to impact on international order makes it a legitimate topic for international relations, and that states have a consequent duty derived from international responsibilities to 'promote a respect for human and minority rights both within and beyond their own sovereign territories' (207-8).

This book is to be recommended as a rich source of insight into what Hayward Alker in his foreword calls 'mature peace research'.


Dr Oliver Ramsbotham
University of Bradford




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