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Resisting infection: How state capacity conditions conflict contagion


  • Alex Braithwaite

    (Department of Political Science, University College London)


The collapse of Mobutu's Zaire and the arrival of father and son Kabila regimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (hereafter, the DRC) were hastened by the dramatic and tumultuous spread of violence from neighboring Rwanda. Mobutu's state's inability to manage the influx of Hutu refugees (with Interahamwe militia members interspersed) into the Kivu province of eastern Zaire from Rwanda's bloody genocide of 1994 or to compensate for the ratcheting up of their cross-border skirmishes with the Banyamulenge (Zairean Tutsi) population in 1996, exacerbated extant tensions and has since resulted in more than a dozen years of civil war. This example prompts us to ask: are countries with higher levels of state capacity better able to resist the spread of violence from neighboring territories into their own? The author argues that when falsely divided notions of spatial heterogeneity and dependence are interacted, contagion from neighboring conflicts becomes a risk of diminishing value for increasingly capable states. A model of civil war contagion affirms a conditional hypothesis, showing that state capacity modifies the likelihood that a state will become infected by a civil conflict occurring in neighboring territories.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Braithwaite, 2010. "Resisting infection: How state capacity conditions conflict contagion," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 47(3), pages 311-319, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:311-319

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    Cited by:

    1. Silve, Arthur & Verdier, Thierry, 2018. "A theory of regional conflict complexes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 434-447.
    2. Yuri M. Zhukov, 2014. "Theory of Indiscriminate Violence," Working Paper 365551, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    3. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Kler, Parvinder, 2016. "The geographical spillover of armed conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 109-119.
    4. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Kler, Parvinder, 2016. "Surrounded by wars: Quantifying the role of spatial conflict spillovers," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 7-16.
    5. Cingolani, Luciana & Thomsson, Kaj & de Crombrugghe, Denis, 2015. "Minding Weber More Than Ever? The Impacts of State Capacity and Bureaucratic Autonomy on Development Goals," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 191-207.
    6. Carbonetti, Benjamin & Pomeroy, Robert & Richards, David L., 2014. "Overcoming the lack of political will in small scale fisheries," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 295-301.
    7. Carmignani, Fabrizio & Kler, Parvinder, 2018. "Your war, my problem: How conflict in a neighbour country hurts domestic development," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 484-495.
    8. Matthew R DiGiuseppe & Colin M Barry & Richard W Frank, 2012. "Good for the money," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(3), pages 391-405, May.
    9. Fabrizio Carmignani & Parvinder Kler, 2017. "The spillover of war in time and space: exploring some open issues," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(3), pages 273-288, January.
    10. Daryna Grechyna, 2018. "Shall We Riot Too? The Geographical Neighbor Impact on Political Instability," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(4), pages 581-612, November.
    11. Alex Braithwaite & Tiffany S. Chu & Justin Curtis & Faten Ghosn, 2019. "Violence and the perception of risk associated with hosting refugees," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 178(3), pages 473-492, March.


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