Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide in-depth knowledge of the main theories on the evolution of intra-state conflicts and the tools for their resolution, with particular reference to the contemporary international system. At the end of the course students will be able to: a) critically examine contemporary literature on the causes and dynamics of conflicts and on interventions; b) apply the research methods most commonly used in the study of conflict analysis and resolution; c) discuss the perspectives and problems of international interventions in intra-state conflicts.

Course contents

This course introduces students to the analysis of conflicts and international interventions providing an overview of major theoretical approaches and empirical applications in those fields. The course will deal with the conceptual and methodological tools provided by academic literature and will apply such concepts and methods to analysis of major conflicts and experiences of international interventions. The course starts by introducing the major strands of research that analyzed conflict onset and dynamics. Then, an overview of scholarship on interventions is presented and discussed. Finally, 6 seminars will be devoted to the application of theories to the analysis of wars (and interventions) in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Colombia, the Sahel region and Syria.

The course is organized in lectures (18 hours) and seminars (12 hours), as specified in the detailed program that follows. In the seminar section students are divided in two groups, with each student attending one class per session/week. Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the session and - in the case of seminars - active participation will also be required through presentations of existing scholarship and case studies. The recommended readings will provide fuller treatment of the topics for students interested in pursuing particular avenues of study or research.


The complete list of readings for students attending the course will be communicated on the first day of class and available on "Virtuale", on the site iol.unibo.it

Students who do not attend classes are invited to contact the instructor to verify the correct understanding of how exams will take place


1. Introduzione al corso: conflitti e interventi nel sistema internazionale contemporaneo (lezione)

Fearon, J. (2017). “Civil War and the Current International System”, Daedalus, 146 (4)

2. Le cause economiche delle guerre civili (lezione)

Ray, Debraj & Joan Esteban (2017). “Conflict and Development”, Annual Review of Economics, 9, 263-293

Fearon, J. D., & Laitin, D. D. (2003). Ethnicity, insurgency, and civil war. American political science review, 97(1), 75-90

3. Identità, politica e guerre civili (lezione)

Brubaker, R. and Laitin, D. (1998) "Ethnic and Nationalist Violence", Annual Reviews of Sociology, 24.

Kalyvas, S. (2018). “Jihadi Rebels in Civil War”, Daedalus 147 (1).

Langer, A. 2005. “Horizontal Inequalities and Violent Conflict. Côte d’Ivoire Country Paper”, Human Development Report 2005 Occasional Paper, available at: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2005_langer_arnim_32.pdf

4. Le dinamiche delle guerre civili (lezione)

Balcells, L., & Stanton, J. A. (2020). Violence Against Civilians During Armed Conflict: Moving Beyond the Macro-and Micro-Level Divide. Annual Review of Political Science, 24, 2021

Cederman, L. E., & Vogt, M. (2017). Dynamics and logics of civil war. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 61(9), 1992-2016

5. Guerre civili e ordini politici (lezione)

Arjona, A. (2014). Wartime institutions: a research agenda. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(8), 1360-1389

Staniland, P. (2012). States, insurgents, and wartime political orders. Perspectives on politics, 10(2), 243-264

6. Peacekeeping (lezione)

Berdal, Mats and David H. Ucko (2015). “The Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping Operations Problems and Prospects”. The RUSI Journal, 160(1).

Karlsrud, Jon (2014). ‘The UN at war: examining the consequences of peace-enforcement mandates for the UN peacekeeping operations in the CAR, the DRC and Mali’, in Third World Quarterly, 36 (1).

7. Peacebuilding (lezione)

Autesserre, S. (2017). International peacebuilding and local success: Assumptions and effectiveness. International Studies Review, 19(1), 114-132

Doyle Michael and Nicholas Sambanis (2000). “International Peacebuilding: A Theoretical and Quantitative Analysis”, American Political Science Review 94(4).

8. State-building (lezione)

Boege, V., Brown, A., Clements, K., & Nolan, A. (2008). On hybrid political orders and emerging states: state formation in the context of ‘fragility’, https://berghof-foundation.org/files/publications/boege_etal_handbook.pdf

Jung, J. K. (2012). Power-sharing and democracy promotion in post-civil war peace-building. Democratization, 19(3), 486-506

Vinjamuri, L., & Snyder, J. (2004). “Advocacy and scholarship in the study of international war crime tribunals and transitional justice”, Annual Review of Political Science, 7

9. Case study: Afghanistan

Goodhand, J. (2002). Aiding violence or building peace? The role of international aid in Afghanistan. Third World Quarterly, 23(5), 837-859

Malejacq, R. (2016). Warlords, intervention, and state consolidation: A typology of political orders in weak and failed states. Security Studies, 25(1), 85-110

Murtazashvili, J. B. (2014). Informal federalism: Self-governance and power sharing in Afghanistan. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 44(2), 324-343

10. Case study: Bosnia-Erzegovina

Costalli, S., & Moro, F. N. (2012). Ethnicity and strategy in the Bosnian civil war: Explanations for the severity of violence in Bosnian municipalities. Journal of Peace Research, 49(6), 801-815

Andreas, P. (2004). The clandestine political economy of war and peace in Bosnia. International Studies Quarterly, 48(1), 29-51

Belloni, R. (2001). “Civil society and peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Journal of Peace Research, 38(2)

11. Case study: Cambogia

Berdal, Mats, and Michael Leifer (1996). “Cambodia.” In The New Interventionism, 1991-1994: United Nations Experience in Cambodia, Former Yugoslavia, and Somalia, edited by James Mayall. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Doyle, Michael W (2001). “Peacebuilding in Cambodia: Legitimacy and Power.” In Peacebuilding as Politics; Cultivating Peace in Fragile Societies, edited by Elizabeth M. Cousens and Chetan Kumar. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, Ch.4 (pp. 89-110).

Richmond, O. P., & Franks, J. (2007). Liberal hubris? Virtual peace in Cambodia. Security Dialogue, 38(1), 27-48

12. Case study: Colombia

Daly, S. Z. (2012). Organizational legacies of violence: Conditions favoring insurgency onset in Colombia, 1964–1984. Journal of Peace Research, 49(3), 473-491

Maher, D., & Thomson, A. (2018). A precarious peace? The threat of paramilitary violence to the peace process in Colombia. Third World Quarterly, 39(11), 2142-2172

Rochlin, J. (2011). Plan Colombia and the revolution in military affairs: the demise of the FARC. Review of International Studies, 715-740

13. Case study: Sahel

Bencherif, A., Campana, A., & Stockemer, D. (2020). Lethal violence in civil war: Trends and micro-dynamics of violence in the Northern Mali conflict (2012-2015). Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, online first

Bøås, M., & Strazzari, F. (2020). Governance, Fragility and Insurgency in the Sahel: A Hybrid Political Order in the Making. The International Spectator, 55(4), 1-17

Stambøl, E. M. (2019). The EU’s fight against transnational crime in the Sahel. Institute for European Studies Policy Brief Issue 2019/04

14. Case study: Siria

Malantowicz, A. (2013). Civil war in Syria and the new wars debate. Amsterdam LF, 5, 52

Medzihorsky, J., Popovic, M., & Jenne, E. K. (2017). Rhetoric of civil conflict management: United Nations Security Council debates over the Syrian civil war. Research & Politics, 4(2)

Selby, J., Dahi, O. S., Fröhlich, C., & Hulme, M. (2017). Climate change and the Syrian civil war revisited. Political Geography, 60, 232-244

* I testi contrassegnati da asterisco sono disponibili in formato sulla piattaforma Proquest Ebook Central, disponibile per studenti UNIBO.

Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars

Assessment methods

Students who DO NOT regularly attend classes

§ Midterm take-home exam (40 % of the final grade)

§ Class presentation and participation (30 % of the final grade)

§ Short paper (1000 words 30% of the final grade) on a case study of conflicts and interventions. The case study to be reviewed will be agreed with the instructor.

Students who DO NOT regularly attend classes will be assessed through a final take-home written exam. The exam will be composed by 3 questions and students will have to provide answers in the range of 1000 words each. Exams will be made available on Esami OnLine (EOL) 4 days before the exam dates (“appelli”) as posted on AlmaEsami and will be due on exam date by noon.

Teaching tools

Lecture slides and readings uploaded on virtuale.unibo.it

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Niccolò Moro