How to Prevent Civil War? Part III

How to Prevent Civil War? Part III

4: How to prevent civil war?

In 2015, the UN adopted the sustainability goals . These will guide world policy in a more holistic and sustainable direction towards 2030. If the world community is to achieve sustainability goal 16 , which is dedicated to creating peaceful and inclusive societies, conflict prevention is absolutely crucial. This was also emphasized by the UN and the World Bank in 2018, in their joint report ” Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict “. As there are various causes of civil war, there is no universal solution. Variation in origin also leads to variation in possible and appropriate measures.

If we take a step back and look at the reasons why civil wars break out, it is nevertheless a key point that armed groups are dependent on supporters. Despite the fact that rebel leaders, or political and military elites, like to lead a conflict, they cannot go to war alone. They depend on others’ willingness to take up arms.

As we have seen, economic factors or systematic discrimination can be the reason why groups and individuals join an armed group. To prevent conflict, one must overcome the reasons people have to start or join the uprising.

One factor that can have a peace-building effect is the introduction of democracy . By opening up for everyone over a certain age to participate in decision-making through free and fair elections, one will to a greater extent prevent parts of the population from being left out of policies and decisions that affect them. Democratic governance can reduce the chance of civil war because it allows more groups in society to have power and influence. Admittedly, professionals do not agree on the extent to which more democracy leads to more peace, and point out that civil wars often occur in “semi-democratic states”. By this is meant states that are neither completely democratic nor completely authoritarian.

Promoting democratic governance and strengthening political institutions is also not always easy. As mentioned, the majority of today’s civil wars occur in countries that have previously been through civil wars. Warring parties are seldom willing to sign a peace agreement if they do not have guarantees that guarantee them power in the wake of conflict. However, democratic elections do not imply such guarantees. Therefore, elections in conflict-affected countries are often followed by new rounds of violence.

Another factor that has a peace-building effect is economic growth and development. Civil war often occurs in poor countries. Political measures that lift the population out of poverty and facilitate economic growth for the benefit of all people are therefore crucial. Fighting corruption, preventing the merit of natural resources only enriching certain groups, and increasing school and work participation, are thus important measures to prevent conflict.

The third and perhaps most important way to prevent civil war is to create inclusive societies that ensure citizens’ rights. By this is meant institutions that protect the people, especially vulnerable groups, from state oppression. History is full of examples of states abusing their own civilian populations. In order to prevent such human rights violations, it is necessary to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and limit the possibility for the authorities to use their power at the expense of the people. The international community can also put pressure on states that violate human rights, through the use of economic or political sanctions. See countries in Africa on

The abolition of the rule of law is an important tool for giving the population a credible promise that it will not be subjected to abuse. Thus, the need to seek protection or resist by joining an armed group will be reduced, which in turn will help prevent the vicious spiral between state oppression and armed insurgency. States that include and protect all groups in society, across religion, language and ethnicity, are therefore best equipped for civil war.


Sustainability goal 16: Peace and justice

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies with a view to sustainable development, ensure access to justice for all and build well-functioning, responsible and inclusive institutions at all levels.


16.1) Achieve a significant reduction in all forms of violence and the proportion of violence-related deaths worldwide.

16.2) Stop abuse, exploitation, human trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

16.3) Promote the rule of law nationally and internationally, and ensure equal access to legal protection for all.

16.4) By 2030, achieve a significant reduction in illegal financial and arms flows, make it easier to track down and return stolen assets, and fight all forms of organized crime.

16.5) Achieve a significant reduction in all forms of corruption and bribery.

16.6) Develop well-functioning, responsible and open institutions at all levels.

16.7) Ensure responsive, inclusive, co-determining and representative decision-making processes at all levels.

16.8) Expand and strengthen developing countries’ participation in institutions for global governance.

16.9) By 2030 ensure legal identity for all, including birth registration.

16.10) Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national law and international agreements.

16.A) Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, with a view to building capacity at all levels, and in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

16.B) Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development.

African Civil War 3