Inaugural Lecture: Conflict and Coexistence in Deeply Divided Societies

Part of the Arts & Humanities Festival 2013: Being | Human
Presented by the Middle East & Mediterranean Studies Programme

Conflict and coexistence in deeply divided societies: Consolidating internationally brokered power-sharing arrangements

Proponents of power-sharing offer a compelling vision for the long-term regulation of ethnic conflict in deeply divided societies, yet the negotiation, implementation and consolidation of such arrangements has proved arduous since the end of the Cold War. One of the oddities of contemporary ethnic conflicts, such as the current contest over the state in Syria, the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, or the troubles that tore Northern Ireland apart for three decades, is that although sharing power presents a way forward in ending the human suffering caused by the outbreak of political violence, the lack of international support for this controversial idea prolongs that violence.

In this lecture, Professor Michael Kerr examines the politics and international relations of forging power-sharing agreements between deeply divided communities in contested states, describing when and how such internationally brokered arrangements may be successful. In the long-term, he argues that without robust international support for such arrangements, power-sharing agreements can merely regulate ethnic conflict rather than resolve it.

Professor Michael Kerr

Michael Kerr is Professor of Conflict Studies, Director of the Middle East & Mediterranean Studies Programme, and Director of the Centre for the Study of Divided Societies. He teaches on the history and politics of conflict regulation in contested states. Michael joined King’s in 2008 from the London School of Economics & Political Science where he was Leverhulme Research Fellow. His latest publications include The Destructors: The Story of Northern Ireland’s Lost Peace Process (Irish Academic Press, 2011), Lebanon: After the Cedar Revolution (Eds. with Are Knudsen, Hurst & Co, 2012 & OUP 2013), and The Alawis of Syria: War, Faith and Politics in the Levant (Eds. with Craig Larkin, forthcoming Hurst & Co 2014).