This volume seeks to understand the central role of governments in intra-state conflicts.
The book explores how the government in any society plays two pivotal roles: as a deterrent against those who would use violence; and as a potential danger to the society. These roles come into conflict with each other, as those governments that can best deter potential rebels are also those that can do the most harm to their citizens. Therefore, a balance must be achieved, raising difficult tradeoffs for policy-makers. This volume marks a departure from studies of ethnic conflict and civil war in recent years, which have focused on failed states, in considering the idea that governments themselves may be the source of violence. The contributors not only explore the balancing act that governments must perform, but also on the positive and negative roles that the international community can play in these conflicts. In doing so, the book covers a range of cases from both advanced and newer democracies to the most conflict-prone parts of the world.