The Duration and Recurrence of Civil War

Authored by: Karl DeRouen

Routledge Handbook of Civil Wars

Print publication date:  February  2014
Online publication date:  February  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415622585
eBook ISBN: 9780203105962
Adobe ISBN: 9781136255786

10.4324/9780203105962.ch24

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Abstract

In addition to onset and outcome – topics covered in Part II and in Kreutz’s chapter respectively – civil war duration is an important line of inquiry because every day the war continues there is additional suffering. Similarly, civil war recurrence signals a harrowing return to the devastation at a time when many thought the war to have subsided. The costs of war include death, displacement, disease, child soldiers, sexual abuses, stalled economic growth, and numerous secondary outcomes that flow from these effects. While civil war duration varies widely, there are some patterns and explanations that can help us understand this range. Duration can be explained by war type, the availability of lootable natural resources, third-party military intervention, mediation, and spoilers, among other factors. To make matters worse, once wars end, they can easily reignite. Recurrence is a function of several factors including how the war ended, the presence of lootable resources, the nature of the state (capacity, level of democracy) at war’s end, costs of the war, mediation, and war type. This chapter explores the determinants of civil war duration and recurrence of civil war by looking at key findings in the literature.

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