Regions and Powers

How the global power balance affects regional conflict dynamics

The Regions and Powers research group examines the interplay between conflict dynamics in particular regions and the shifts in global power balance caused by the rise of new state-actors. Stimulating critical discussion and brainstorming, the group seeks to bring together theory-informed and policy-relevant analysis of two major themes:

1. The evolving character of conflicts and the

experiences in preservation of peace in several dynamic regional settings

  1. The expanding interests of non-Western state-actors and their ambitions for altering the agenda on major international affairs.

In the first theme, our goal is to compare the dissimilar and often unique combinations of drivers that determine the trajectory of the long-going and fast-evolving violent conflict in Afghanistan; the management of inter-state tensions and the minimization of the risk of war in East Asia; the existence of unrecognized quasi-states and the transformation of civil wars in the Caucasus. We will also make frequent inroads into the trouble spots in the Greater Middle East – from Kurdistan to Darfur.

In the second theme, our main interest is in assessing the influence of the so-called ‘rising powers’ (often presented as the BRICS group) on the reconfiguration of the international political and economic agenda in the time of crisis, and their impact on dealing with the regional crises (examined in the first theme). While Western political attention is increasingly focused on China, we will grant it due attention, but we will concentrate on the behaviour of India, Russia, and Turkey, and seek to develop expertise on Brazil.

The key research questions the group will be dealing with are:

  • What is really new in the ‘new wars’?
  • How are the regional powers using their growing economic and political might for gaining global profile and challenging Western dominance?
  • How does the ‘state sovereignty’ concept change under the impact of technological globalization and the influence of ‘rising powers’?
  • How do history and culture shape regional patterns of political contestation and (non)intervention in conflicts?
  • Are transnational militant groups in their own right posing a fundamental threat to existent states, or is the effectiveness of such groups a reflection of their alliances with state actors?
  • In what ways do internal conflicts impact on global power contestation and what new instruments are used for managing these conflicts?
  • How did the long peace in East Asia emerge in the 1980s and what are the factors sustaining or eroding it?
  • Could Russia and Turkey forge a meaningful partnership for maximizing their impact on conflict development in the Middle East and the Black Sea area?
  • What means could be used for managing the unique concentration of inter-state conflicts and civil wars in the Caucasus?
  • How do regional powers and organizations interact with the United Nations during periods of conflict and post-conflict intervention?
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