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Communal conflict, civil war, and the state: Complexities, connections, and the case of Sudan

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Abstract:

This article analyses communal conflict, which we define as violent conflict between non-state groups that are organised along a shared communal identity, and how such conflicts relate to state-based violence. We argue that a deeper understanding of communal conflicts, the different types of dynamics and conflict issues, as well as of the complex connections between communal conflicts and other forms of organised violence, is necessary for improving academic research as well as for better informed policy and interventions. Our arguments are illustrated through a case study of Sudan. The article makes three main contributions: first, it shows that communal conflicts often have grave consequences, and illustrates several linkages between communal conflicts and state-based conflicts. Secondly, it demonstrates that a correct analysis is necessary before any party intervenes, in order to understand in what ways the communal conflict may be entangled with other types of organised violence. Thirdly, the article underlines that communal conflicts need to be taken into account both when signing a peace agreement and in the post-conflict situation, to avoid the risk that conflict and violence merely spills over from one type to another.

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