Ethnic Discrimination and Interstate Violence: Testing the International Impact of Domestic Behavior

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Trumbore, Peter F.; & Caprioli, Mary (2003) Ethnic Discrimination and Interstate Violence: Testing the International Impact of Domestic Behavior , Journal of Peace Research 40(1): 5–23.

It has been shown in the work of Ted Gurr and others that ethnic discrimination can lead to ethno-political rebellion, and that rebellion often leads to interstate conflict. The authors seek to discover whether rebellion is the only meaningful link between ethnic discrimination and international violence. Many scholars have argued that a domestic environment of inequality and violence results in a greater likelihood of state use of violence internationally. This argument is most fully developed within feminist literature; however, research in the area of ethno-political conflict has also highlighted the negative impact of domestic discrimination on state behavior at the international level. The analysis builds upon the literature linking domestic gender inequality and state aggression to other inequalities created and/or sustained by the state. Using the Minorities at Risk (MAR) and Militarized Interstate Disputes (MID) datasets, the authors test whether states characterized by higher levels of discrimination against ethnic minorities are more likely to exhibit higher levels of hostility or to use force first when involved in international disputes. Group-level data in MAR are used to create a set of state-level variables measuring the extent of formal and informal discrimination against minority groups. The authors then test whether states with higher levels of discrimination against minority groups are more likely to rely on force when involved in an international dispute, controlling for other possible causes of state use of force. Ultimately, the authors confirm their hypotheses that states characterized by domestic inequality with regard to ethnic minorities are more likely to exhibit higher levels of hostility and to use force first when involved in an interstate conflict.