Reading up on Irredentism and Secession.

A lot of discussion on Ukraine has focused on the implications of Russia reclaiming Crimean territory. These two studies provide empirical evidence and theoretical support  showing that typically irredenta are more violent than secessions and that leaders who choose to annex territory are driven by limited constraints internationally and domestically. Questions of salience and gravity of threat are examined as a basis for explaining high levels of  violence.

The International Dimensions of Ethnic Conflict: Concepts, Indicators, and Theory.


One of the growing debates among students of international politics concerns the precise linkage between ethnic conflict and international conflict. The present investigation attempts to contribute to this dialogue in three ways. First, prior studies of ethnic conflict and international relations are reappraised in terms of the central concepts and presumed causal linkage, leading to several changes in approach. Specifically, a typology of ethnic conflicts is devised deductively, including a rank ordering of types of ethnic conflicts in terms of the impact they have on levels of international violence. Second, testing focuses on the presumed ordering of ethnic conflicts from anti-colonial, secessionist and irredentist utilizing data from the International Crisis Behaviour Project on cases in the period 1945-81. A set of bivariate and multivariate indicators and an index of violence are used in the assessment of the proposed impact ethnic conflicts have on interstate violence. Four of the five propositions are confirmed. Third, the paper offers some preliminary conclusions about the policy and theoretical implications of the international dimensions of ethnic conflict, including directions for future research.

Internal Constraints and Interstate Ethnic Conflict: Toward a Crisis-Based Assessment of Irredentism.


Two theoretical orientations, the instrumental and affective, have purported to explain interstate ethnic conflict. This investigation provides an initial assessment of the ability of affective motivations to account for properties of international crises. The point of departure is a review of literature on international aspects of ethnic conflict. This exercise provides a context for comparison of the traits of irredentist and nonirredentist foreign policy crises. International Crisis Behavior Project data from 1945 to 1988 are used to test three propositions about this important type of interstate conflict. Initial results are favorable: crises within irredentist conflicts differ from others with respect to perceived gravity of threat, crisis management techniques, and severity of violence. Two of the differences become greater when internal constraint on a crisis actor’s regime is introduced as an interactive variable. The investigation concludes with suggestions for further research.

David Carment

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