Strategies of intervention in protracted violent conflicts by civil society actors
: The examples of interventions in the violent conflicts in the area of Former Yugoslavia, 1990-2002

  • Christine Schweitzer

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis seeks to contribute to the understanding of conflict intervention in protracted violent conflicts by studying the activities of civil society actors in regard to the conflicts in what was Yugoslavia until 1991. A very broad understanding of ‘intervention’ is used for this purpose that includes all kinds of activities that relate to the conflicts. Based on a survey of activities in the period between 1990 and 2002, a framework for categorising and describing these interventions is applied according to basic functions in four ‘grand strategies’ of ‘peace-making’, ‘peace-keeping’, ‘peacebuilding’, and ‘information, support, protest and advocacy’, with a total list of about 230 instruments of conflict intervention identified.

    The study concludes that civil society actors played three different basic roles: They complemented the work of state actors, they were the avant-garde for approaches, strategies and methods that later became ‘mainstream’ in conflict intervention, and in some cases, they were able to control or correct actions by governments through advocacy or direct action. The development of instruments of civil conflict transformation received a massive boost through this engagement in the 1990s.

    The study supports the position taken recently by some researchers making comparative studies of cases of conflict intervention regarding the limited role played by dialogue and reconciliation work in regard to dealing with the overall conflicts: In spite of ‘reconciliation’ and inter-ethnic cooperation being at the core of the vast majority of all projects and programmes undertaken in the area, indicators of real impact regarding an overall positive change in society and prevention of future violence seem to be rather weak.

    The study further observes that there was a social movement developed relating to former Yugoslavia in many Western countries that in a hitherto unknown way combined traditional methods of protest and advocacy with concrete work in the field.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SponsorsGerman Peace Research Foundation
    SupervisorAndrew Rigby (Supervisor)


    • peace and reconciliation
    • former Yugoslavia
    • conflict intervention

    Cite this