The Handbook on the Political Economy of War
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The Handbook on the Political Economy of War

Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers

By defining political economy and war in the broadest sense, this unique Handbook brings together a wide range of interdisciplinary scholars from economics, political science, sociology, and policy studies to address a multitude of important topics. These include an analysis of why wars begin, how wars are waged, what happens after war has ceased, and the various alternatives to war. Other sections explore civil war and revolution, the arms trade, economic and political systems, and post-conflict reconstruction and nation building. Policymakers as well as academics and students of political science, economics, public policy and sociology will find this volume to be an engaging and enlightening read.
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Chapter 23: Credible Commitment in Post-Conflict Recovery

Thomas Edward Flores and Irfan Nooruddin


Thomas Edward Flores and Irfan Nooruddin 23.1 INTRODUCTION As the contributions in this volume attest, civil war is common and deadly. By one count, civil conflicts have killed nearly 20 million people since 1945 (World Bank 2006). Perversely, the social, political and economic damage inflicted during civil conflicts often persists or even worsens once hostilities end, in turn planting the seeds of future civil conflicts. Paul Collier and his co-authors (2003) describe this cycle as a “conflict trap” and urge international donors to assist post-conflict countries in their economic reconstruction or risk further war. That logic suggests two related questions for post-conflict countries. First, what factors favor the deepening of peace after civil conflicts? Second, what political steps are needed to speed economic reconstruction and provide opportunities to impoverished citizens? Research seeking to answer these questions not only furthers our understanding of civil conflicts, but also provides valuable guidance to politicians, aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the shadow of violent conflicts. Indeed, the challenge of promoting post-conflict economic recovery while avoiding conflict recidivism is daunting. Collier et al. (2003, p. 83) show that the risk of further conflict for countries emerging from civil war (that is, in the first year of post-conflict peace) is almost twice as high as it was on the eve of that conflict. Our own data support a pernicious version of the “conflict trap” and dramatically emphasizes the importance of short-term economic recovery; if a country does not recover economically in its first...

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