Ethnopolitical Conflict and Separatist Violence

  • Ted Robert Gurr
  • Anne Pitsch


The pursuit of political autonomy was the central issue of a great many of the world’ s most intense and protracted conflicts during the 1980s and 1990s. The protagonists in these conflicts were, on the one side, politically organized ethnic groups seeking greater autonomy or independence, and on the other, governments seeking to maintain their states’ central authority and territorial integrity. Some of these conflicts have had appalling human costs, for example two million civilian deaths in Sudan between 1983 and 1999 and more than 140,000 in Bosnia.1 Every heterogenous state with regionally concentrated minorities is at risk of separatist conflicts. The conflicts are not inherently violent, however. Many culturally distinct groups pursue separatist objectives by nonviolent political means, for example the Tatars of the Russian Federation and the First Nations of Canada. The 16 successor states of the USSR gained independence with virtually no violence, similarly the Czech and Slovak republics divorced peacefully in 1993. Even when organized violence has occurred in separatist conflicts, they are susceptible to negotiated settlement, as has happened in the Palestinian—Israeli conflict and the 20-year war between the Chakma peoples of the Chittagong Hills and the government of Bangladesh.


Indigenous People Ethnic Identity Political Strategy National People National Minority 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ted Robert Gurr
  • Anne Pitsch

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