n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Implications of the democracy-development relationship for conflict resolution

Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


The article uses a working hypothesis based on three assumptions, namely that democratisation is directly and positively correlated with conflict resolution / prevention; that socio-economic development is directly and positively correlated with democracy; and therefore that democratisation and socio-economic development provide a fitting structural basis for resolving and preventing conflict.

Firstly, the nature of conflict resolution is examined in the context of four categories. For the purpose of the discussion, the behaviouralist and instrumentalist / structuralist approaches are used. Secondly, the relationship between democracy and economic development is investigated. Research conclusions indicate that with regard to democratic regimes, economic development is a more important variable than political legacy, religious or linguistic factors. High growth and loss of personal income are potential threats to democratic consolidation and stability, and egalitarian income distribution is conducive to democratic durability. Data from African countries are used to test these general conclusions. These data qualify the correlation between growth and democracy, and shift the focus more to the social impact of growth and away from growth per se. Income and human development indices provide even less confirmation of the development / democracy correlation. Thirdly, the nature of democracy is briefly analysed to determine how development and conflict resolution can fit into its composition. The instrumentalist and intrinsic approaches are used.
The overall conclusion is that neither democratisation nor economic development, nor a combination of them can be applied under all circumstances for conflict resolution.

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