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Copenhagen Consensus: Conflicts Assessment, Collier Hoeffler

An Assessment Paper on Conflict was prepared for the 2004 Copenhagen Consensus by Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler. The working paper used by the Expert Panel is available for download here, the finalized paper has been published in Global Crises, Global Solutions by Cambridge University Press.

Short Summary

Although wars between nations have become less common in recent decades, the frequency of civil wars around the world has increased. These two types of conflict cannot sensibly be analysed together. This paper focuses entirely on reducing the incidence of civil wars. Since the post-conflict period actually presents particularly high risks, the biggest opportunity lies in preventing wars from recurring.

Within the challenge of reducing the global incidence of civil war, this paper focuses on three opportunities. These are the prevention of civil war in currently peaceful environments; the shortening of conflicts in currently war-torn environments; and the reduction in the risk of the resumption of conflict in postconflict situations. These opportunities are very different, both in terms of instruments and pay-offs. Probably the highest pay-off is from improved interventions in post-conflict situations. Post-conflict relapses into renewed violence account for around half of all global civil wars, and so they provide an opportunity for highly focused interventions. By contrast, prevention is a highly diffuse approach.