Higher research seminar with Isak Svensson: Jihadi Peace. Islamist Armed Conflict and Prospects for Conflict Resolution in Civil War
Convenors: karin.aggestam [at] svet.lu.se (Karin Aggestam) & anders.uhlin [at] svet.lu.se (Anders Uhlin)
Jihadi Peace: Islamist Armed Conflict and Prospects for Conflict Resolution in Civil War
One of the most pressing challenges on the contemporary global agenda for peace and security is how to resolve armed conflicts involving militant Islamist groups. While conflicts involving organised armed actors with self-proclaimed political aspirations framed in religious terms constituted a small minority of all armed conflicts at the time of the end of the Cold War, the picture has now changed. In 2016, about half of all armed conflicts recorded by the Uppsala Conflict Data Programme (UCDP) involved warring parties who expressed their political aims at least partly along such lines, ranging from demands to incorporate Islamic law in part into existing state legislation to a desire to unify the Muslim world and establish a worldwide caliphate.
In this presentation, I will show the extent to which this category of conflicts appears less likely to see attempts at peaceful conflict resolution. While local and international peacemakers have successfully contributed to a general decline in warfare since 1991 through mediation, negotiations and peace agreements, quantitative research have shown that Islamist armed conflicts are at least in part less likely to experience such tools. My presentation will discuss possible explanations for why this is the case. In spite of a growing literature on conflict resolution in civil wars, we know surprisingly little about the conditions under which these conflicts may be brought to an end, especially beyond military means.
Isak Svensson is Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden, and former Director of Research at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, New Zealand. His three main areas of expertise are 1) international mediation in civil wars, 2) religious and conflict, and 3) dynamics of strategic nonviolent conflicts. He has published and edited ten books, and 30 articles in international academic journals, including Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, European Journal of International Relations, and International Negotiation. His latest books are The Go-Between: Ambassador Jan Eliasson and the Styles of International Mediation, (co-authored with Peter Wallensteen) United Institute of Peace Press (2010), and Ending Holy Wars: Religion and Conflict Resolution in Civil Wars, University of Queensland Press (2012), and International Mediation Bias and Peacemaking: Taking sides in civil wars (Routledge, 2015). Together with Ron Hassner, Isak Svensson har also edited (2016): International Relations & Religion, Vol 1-IV, SAGE. Isak Svensson is project leader for the international research project Resolving Jihadist Armed Conflicts? Religion, Civil War, and Prospects of Peace (funded by Riksbankens Jubleumsfond, 2016-2021)
Latest publications (2017): Dogukan Cansin Karakus & Isak Svensson: “Between the Bombs: Exploring Partial Ceasefires in the Syrian Civil War, 2011- 2017”, forthcoming, Terrorism and Political Violence; Isak Svensson and Desiree Nilsson: ”Disputes over the Divine: Introducing the Religion and Armed Conflict (RELAC) Data, 1975-2015”, forthcoming, Journal of Conflict Resolution; Daniel Finnbogason & Isak Svensson: “The Missing Jihad: Why Have There Been No Jihadist Civil Wars in Southeast Asia?”, Pacific Review, forthcoming, 2017