Global Development Theme 9 - War, Conflict and Development

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War, Conflict and Development


  • WAR is an organised, armed and prolonged conflict carried out between two states, nations or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption and high mortality
  • CIVIL WAR is a war when forces in the conflict belong to the same nation or political entity, and are vying for control over or independence from that nation or political entity (e.g. the Rwandan Genocide)
  • CONFLICT can be without warfare: terrorism, political protests, military coups etc. 
  • OLD WARS are based aournd an alliance of nations states (e.g. WW1 and WW2)
  • NEW WARS are mainly civil wars on a smaller scale, fuelled by ethnic differences
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Causes of Civil War

  • Dependence on primary commodities - such as diamonds or oil
  • Lack of education - males that should be in school make up the majority of combatants in civil wars 
  • High levels of population dispersion - favoured by rebels as population dispersion is harder to control than populations concentrated in one region
  • Ethnicity and injustice - ethnic dominance increases the risk of civil wars; an overthrow of the majority or the eradication of the minority
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Effects of War and Conflict


  • Death
  • Injury
  • Chaotic health sector                                                                                                                                          


  • Economic stagnation
  • Deterioration of social services 
  • Abuses of human rights
  • Illnesses and diseases                                                                                                                                                              
  • Men are affected because they are recruited to fight and face unemployment after the war has ended, which leads to poverty and crime
  • Women are affected because all of the men in their lives have gone to fight and they are the victims of sexual and physical violence
  • Children are affected because they can become orphaned, displaced and brainwashed by militant propaganda 
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Prevention or Cause? USA Intervention

  • The USA argues that war is sometimes necessary to bring about a more orderly and stable society
  • However, David Harvey argued that the Iraq war was 'always about oil'
  • Noam Chomsky - the USA has over 1000 military bases worldwise and it is the biggest aggressor of the last half century
  • The above point is backed by John Pilger who argues that military force is used against foreign governments that do not support American interests 
  • Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine argues that the USA uses war to destroy infrastructure in developing nations so that American companies can make a profit when rebuilding them (e.g. Dick Cheney, ex-CEO of Halliburton)
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