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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

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Managing Armed Conflicts in the 21st Century
Adekeye Adebajo and Chandra Lekha Sriram (eds.),

London, Frank Cass, 2001
230 pp. Hb.: 45.00 /$59.50; ISBN 0-7146-5094-3. Pb.: 17.50/ $24.50; ISBN 0-7146-8136-9



Contrary to the somewhat misleading title, this book focuses mainly on the 20th century in its examination of many of the important issues related to conflict management worldwide. The contributions from 16 predominately young scholars from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America are structured in four clusters with issues ranging from the role of natural resources in conflicts to the civil-military relations and the protection of civilians in conflict.

The broad spectrum of issues are further combined with a focus on actors from the international level (the UN and NATO) to regional organisations, private security companies and local warlords. The first cluster examines the paradox in the traditional distinction between war and peace with the co-operation often taking place in wars and the violence embodied in peace. The second one analyses the changing nature of the role played by the UN in peace operations, which has moved from peacekeeping to more active peace enforcement through the increase use of Chapter VII mandates. The third cluster is concerned with the growing importance and changing status of non-traditional actors in conflict and conflict management and the final cluster analyses the different problems of conflict management in Africa, Europe and Asia.

Most of the chapters are easy accessible and well written as they combine comparative case studies with theoretical claims and analysis of institutional processes and actors. Unfortunately, as many other edited books with a broad scope, the book as a whole suffers from a lack of cohesiveness. This lack could have been, at least partly, helped by a concluding chapter drawing on the findings of the different authors.

Although the issues dealt with in this book are likely to remain the main issues when managing armed conflicts in this new, 21st century, an increased focus on the future with suggestions for broader strategies or new approaches would also have added considerably to the book.

Notwithstanding, the eleven chapters in this book supply several lessons learned especially when it comes UN peacekeeping operations and most importantly, the book provides an broad overview of the important issues in conflict management from the perspective of young scholars world-wide. The book is, therefore, a valuable contribution to the field.


Malin Brenk



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