Enduring Internal Rivalries: A New Framework for the Study of Civil War

Published date01 January 2008
AuthorKarl R. Derouen,Jacob Bercovitch
Date01 January 2008
Subject MatterArticles
Many scholared considered the civil war in Peru
between the government and the Sendero
Luminoso to have ended in the 1990s. The
group’s founder and leader, Abimael Guzman,
was captured, and the movement seemed to
have lost its momentum. One major civil war
dataset (Doyle & Sambanis, 2000) codes the
war as having ended in 1996. Another
(Fearon, 2004) puts the end at 1995. The
PRIO/Uppsala dataset lists the last year with
at least 25 deaths as 1999 (Eriksson &
Wallensteen, 2004). However, in late 2005,
the rebel group was still around and suspected
in a wave of terrorist acts against police. The
© 2008 Journal of Peace Research,
vol. 45, no. 1, 2008, pp. 55–74
Sage Publications (Los Angeles, London, New Delhi
and Singapore) http://jpr.sagepub.com
DOI 10.1177/0022343307084923
Enduring Internal Rivalries: A New Framework
for the Study of Civil War*
Department of Political Science, The University of Alabama
School of Political Science and Communication, University of Canterbury
The enduring rivalry (ER) framework was developed for studying the long-term dynamics of serious
conf licts between pairs of states. Here, the logic and structure of that framework is applied to civil wars.
Many civil wars are very long and recur often. A new way of thinking of about these long and seem-
ingly interminable internal conf licts emphasizes a dyadic perspective and enduring internal rivalry
(EIR). Within this framework, the article demonstrates empirically that EIRs are different from other
wars. This study offers a definition and an initial dataset of EIRs. Working from the Uppsala Conflict
Termination Dataset, we find that about 76% of all civil war years from 1946 to 2004 took place in
the context of EIRs. Several statistical models are tested to demonstrate the empirical validity of the EIR
construct, while controlling for state capacity, democracy, type of termination, military coups, war
intensity, and duration of war. The logit results provide evidence that civil wars involving EIRs are more
likely to recur, and the hazard analysis results reveal that EIRs are followed by shorter peace spells. The
early phases of EIRs are followed by relatively shorter peace spells, thus indicating a ‘locking in’ period
that scholars have identified in international rivalries. Military victories lead to longer peace, but few
EIRs are terminated with military outcomes. The hazard models employed here employ repeat-event
techniques, since many civil wars exhibit patterns of recurrence. Implications of these results for con-
f lict management are offered.
*Correspondence: kderouen@bama.ua.edu and jacob.
bercovitch@canterbury.ac.nz. An earlier version of this
article was presented at the 47th Annual Convention of the
International Studies Association, San Diego, CA, 22–25
March 2006. We are greatly indebted to Joakim Kreutz for
his generous assistance. We also benefited from the com-
ments and help of Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, David
Cunningham, James Fearon, Nicholas Sambanis, Lotta
Harbom, Peter Wallensteen, Bethany Lacina, Kathleen
Gallagher Cunningham, Scott Gartner, Jessica Atwood,
Claire Newcombe, and Alice Mortlock. This study was
financed in part by a grant from the New Zealand Royal
Society’s Marsden Fund. The data and an appendix can be
found at http://www.prio.no/jpr/datasets.
84923_JPR_55-74.qxd 12/14/2007 2:44 PM Page 55
datasets mentioned above accurately recog-
nize the dates of the core conf lict. What they
do not address is that conf licts between rebels
and governments may exist many years after
fighting stops. Conf lict between such dyads
can stop and start repeatedly over many
years. This article represents a first cut at
identifying and characterizing these persist-
ent conf licts that we call enduring internal
rivalries (EIRs).
Civil wars since 1945 have resulted in
more than 20 million fatalities and 67 million
displaced persons (Doyle & Sambanis, 2000).
Not only are they found in every part of the
world, but they also seem to defy attempts at
termination or resolution. Conf licts such as
those in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indonesia,
and many other countries have been a major
feature of international relations for decades.
Such conflicts may last for years and often
display a stop-and-start pattern (see Walter,
2004). The pervasiveness of these seemingly
endless conf licts has inevitably been accom-
panied by numerous efforts by individuals,
states, and international organizations, all
designed to control or reduce the level of
violence (see Bercovitch, Goertz & Diehl,
1997). Longstanding disputes promote a web
of conf lictual characteristics and hostile per-
ceptions that tend to reignite every so often
and generate much of the violence we see
around us (see Coleman, 2003).
The civil wars we are interested in are
intractable and characterized by repeated
acts of militarized activity. There is a long set
of unresolved, or apparently irreconcilable,
issues at stake. Parties in conflict feel that,
while they may reach temporary cessations of
violence, they cannot reach a fundamental
and long-lasting resolution. Finally, intract-
able conf licts display all the psychological
manifestations of enmity and deep feelings of
fear and hatred. Continuous conf lict tends to
induce stereotypes and suspicions, and these
reinforce antagonistic perceptions and behav-
ior (Kriesberg, 2005). In some cases, the
parties develop a vested interest in the con-
f lict’s continuation. One of the reasons that
these conf licts are intractable is that they are
costly in terms of human fatalities, economic
losses, and displacement (Doyle & Sambanis,
Here, we suggest a new way of thinking
about intractable internal conf licts. Following
the logic of King, Keohane & Verba (1994),
we study an important research question in a
novel way. We explore the implications of a
well-established theory in international rela-
tions by adapting it to a new context, offer-
ing, in the process, a new dataset on internal
conf licts. We utilize the enduring rivalry (ER)
theory, developed in the context of interstate
conf licts, to build a preliminary EIR frame-
work (see DeRouen, 2005). Because they rep-
resent the vast majority of civil war years,
EIRs cannot be ignored, especially if they
offer hope in reconciling discrepant findings
on the duration of the peace.
Enduring Rivalry Framework
Conceptualizing recurring interstate wars
and longstanding conf licts in terms of an ER
permits us to pay closer attention to an
overall relationship and to a long-term per-
spective. Two dimensions are central here:
time and repeated militarized conflict. Azar
(1986) drew early attention to this class of
recurring conf licts, which he described as
protracted. According to Azar, protracted
conf licts are usually linked to some intan-
gible needs (e.g. identity, recognition, ethni-
city), and they tend to generate or reinforce
a high level of violence, producing a ‘recurring,
dangerous dyad’. Kriesberg (1993) discusses
intractable or enduring international dis-
putes, the disproportionate havoc they cause,
and the difficulty of managing such disputes.
Empirical observations of this relationship by
Gochman & Maoz (1984) and a systematic
study by Goertz & Diehl (1993) provide the
foundation for examining the presence of
journal of PEACE RESEARCH volume 45 / number 1 / january 2008
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