Conflict management and Peace have always been of great interest to mankind since the earliest days of civilization. Seeds of thought on these concepts are rooted in the great religions. Applications of conflict management were initially investigated in a religious and ethical framework and continued to develop in theological literature. From time immemorial religious leaders and social transformers have persistently spread the gospel of peace and tranquility. Development of this concept has taken place in a number of directions. In the academic area, in recent years, the greatest contribution has come from Peace Studies, where learned societies were formed, books have been written and international issues of peace and conflict are discussed at conferences. An overt expression of this interest culminated in peace movements that have been quite prominent in the second half of the twentieth century. In modern times, the issues of peace and war have come to entail more than an ethical or religious question; they are interwoven with the social, economic, and political fabric of the global community. Therefore, it will be useful if we can show how the techniques used in the social sciences can be modified to solve practical, real-life problems in such areas as personal-family conflicts, societal problems including language ethnic and race relations; ethical problems, planning problems such as housing, transportation, etc.; and most important in International Relations, War and Peace. A new discipline called Peace Economics and Peace Science is providing such a forum. Some scholars, such as Isard and Smith (1982); Bremer (1987); Isard (1992) and Rummel (1997), have devoted much of their energies to the development of the field. For more than three decades, there have been phenomenal developments in this discipline [See also: Polachek (2010); Dacey and Carlson (2010); Caruso (2010, 2012)].
Some techniques in Peace Economics and Peace Science have been effectively used in conflict analysis1. This special issue of Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy includes some articles in emerging areas of Peace Economics and Peace Science. The papers were presented in an international Seminar on Advances in Peace Economics and Peace Science at Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing, China November 8–11, 2013. Let us briefly summarize the papers.
Urs Luterbacher and Carmen Sandi present a path breaking approach linking Peace Science with Neuroscience. In fact, conflict escalation cannot be just explained by deteriorating economic conditions. Fear, and emotions have much to do with escalation of conflict. To take this into account, they have borrowed the concepts of Neurobiology and applied them to Peace Science and came up with a theoretical model and tested with the data of Syrian conflict.
Interstate conflict is usually explained in dyadic relation and extensive work has been done in the area of International Relations and Peace Science. Alex Mintz and Uk Heo have extended to triadic relationship of Isreal with the US, Soviet Union/Russia and UK and France using Aid and Trade as variables in a negative binomial distribution model.
In International Relations literature on intrastate and interstate conflicts, the number of casualties has been used as a variable in sophisticated models using different datasets. Such a dependent variable can be extended to non-military categories taking into considerations represented by a common set of variables. This extended definition will lead to new areas of research involving sociological variables related to conflict. This is the focus of Sheldon Levy’s paper.
Broadly related to this is the article by Lloyd Dumas. In fact, it is now widely believed that military spending is not the only sole index of security. The definition of security needs to be extended. Socio-economic, political and environmental security have long-lasting effect on sustainable peace. We also need to consider direct and indirect effect of military spending. Dumas presents this perspective to measure the effect of military spending. According to him, in the short run, military spending can lead to physical security and economic stimulus. But in the long run, it will be counter-productive. For more than 30 years, researchers have tried to find the relationship between military spending and economic growth. No decisive conclusion has been reached. Extensive work has been done taking different data sets and country groupings. Sophisticated econometric techniques have been used. Hou Na and Chen Bo have adopted the approach of an Augmented Solow model using data of some developed OECD countries. They used different panel estimation methods and found out that the military spending will have negative effect to growth.
In the literature of Political Science and international relations, it is assumed that whatever happened in the political arena in the past for Western countries will be repeated now for all other (particularly developing) countries. Power balance model in the seventeenth century in Europe sometimes known as Peace of Westphalia has been applied to other countries in explanation of political map in international relations. Steve Pickering thinks that approach is untenable.
Partha Gangopadhyay uses a game theory approach taking corruption as a key variable in the arms trade. He presents a model of endogenous competition since he believes that the standard oligopolistic approach is not adequate and his endogenous approach reverses most of the results of oligopolistic market.
Peace Science was designed as an interdisciplinary social science field integrating with Natural Science, Engineering and Law. It started with Economics and Political Science. The objective was to expand to Sociology, Anthropology, Biology, Neuroscience, etc. But so far, we have been quite unsuccessful. Further, there has been a diversion of interest between economists and political scientists. As a result, this discipline is proceeding in two tracks namely Peace Economics and Peace Science. This is unfortunate. It is the right time to reconcile and integrate these two disciplines. We also want to propose some suggestions about the prospecting areas in which Peace Science and Peace Economics can develop in the future. Peace process usually depends on negotiation and mediation. Voluminous material is available in Industrial Relations and Business Management on this subject. Unfortunately, this material has not been used in Peace Science literature. Another potential area is the integration of Peace Science and Regional Science. In fact, it is widely acknowledged that conflict very much depends on geographical space and contiguity. For over the past four decades, substantial literature is now available on the linkage of socio economic variables over space, most recently using Spatial Econometrics. This is crucial to enrich the study of peace and correlates.
Another area is environment and conflict like global warming. In the future, environmental problems will play a significant role possibly leading to arms conflict between countries. We have faced the recent economic downturn worldwide, fiscal conflict will reappear in the future period. There is a need to develop analytical tools to handle these types of crises and propose particular policies. Economic policy turns to be crucial to secure paths of a peaceful and sustainable development. Needless to say, in this perspective Peace was usually framed in public sector namely government. But, private business sector is very much dependent on Peace and has a great role in conflict resolution. In brief, there have been fantastic developments in Peace Economics and Peace Science in the past. Let us carry forward this momentum in the future.
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About the article
Published Online: 2014-08-06
Published in Print: 2014-08-01
Due to the limitation of space, we cannot discuss these topics in details here. Readers are referred to Chatterji (1992) and Gangopadhyay and Chatterji (2009) and the volumes of book series: Contributions to Conflict Management Peace Economics and Development (CCMPED) – General editor; Manas Chatterji, for details. See in particular Caruso (2011).