Violent Conflictition. Armed Conflicts and Global Competition for Attention and Legitimacy

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Teresa KOLOMA BECK, Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany
Tobias WERRON, University of Bielefeld, Germany
The persistence of violence in international politics is often depicted in terms of a gap between the normative ideal of non-violence on the one hand and the actual behavior of governments and other actors on the other. This paper proposes to see this gap as an object of empirical research rather than just as a normative dilemma. We argue that the institutionalization of global norms of non- violence since the mid-to-late nineteenth century has changed the conditions for the reproduction of violent conflicts by embedding local conflicts into global competitions for attention and legitimacy. At the heart of this process we see a type of observer that we call universalized third parties: international organizations, social scientists, journalists and similar agents who, by positioning themselves as proponents of universal norms and by objecting violence in the name of humanity, have made violence particularly likely to attract the attention of the so-called world public opinion. This global attention, however, can impact conflicts in different and contradictory ways: On the one hand, violence now is particularly likely to undermine the legitimacy of conflict parties, incenting them to refrain from violence or to try to direct attention to the violent behavior of their opponent; on the other hand, violence attracts attention to the conflict, incenting conflict parties to make deliberate use of it in order to call attention to their cause. This complex interplay between local conflicts and global competition is what we call violent conflictition – a neologism coined to indicate the concurrence between conflict and competition.