Publications

2001
Adaptation and Learning in Conflict Management, Reduction, and Resolution
Bar-Siman-Tov Y. Adaptation and Learning in Conflict Management, Reduction, and Resolution. 2001.PDF icon adaptation_and_learning_bar-siman-tov.pdf
Separatist Wars, Partition, and World Order
Fearon JD. Separatist Wars, Partition, and World Order. 2001.Abstract

Should ethnonationalist wars be resolved by formally partitioning states? The answer
can't be decided case by case, because two incentive problems imply that ad hoc
partitions have eects that extend across cases. First, if the implicit criterion for major
power intervention in support of partition is some level of violence, this encourages violent
movements seeking to mobilize cultural dierence in order to claim statehood. The
Wilsonian diagnosis is wrong. Perpetual civil peace cannot be had by properly sorting
\true" nations into states, because nations are not born but made, partially in response
to international incentives and major power policies. Second, an international order in
which major powers go around carving up lesser powers on an ad hoc basis would make
all states signicantly less secure. Ad hoc use of partition to solve civil wars would
undermine a relatively stable implicit bargain among the major powers in place since
the 1950s { \If you don't seek to change interstate borders by force, neither will we." I
argue that this norm has been valuable, functioning in some respects like an arms control
agreement. It would be irresponsible to undermine it without a thought to what might
replace it, as the advocates of ad hoc partition are eectively urging.
If the major powers want to start redesigning \sovereign" states, they need a political
and legal framework that mitigates these two incentive eects. The best feasible solutions
may be: (1) strengthening and making more precise international legal standards on
human (and perhaps group) rights; (2) threatening to sanction states that do not observe
these standards in regard to minorities, possibly including some forms of support for
agents of the oppressed group; (3) holding to the norm of partition only by mutual
consent, but providing carrots and sticks when the state in question refuses to abide by
minimal standards of nondiscrimination.