Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Natural disasters do not necessarily create peace, research finds

Date:
September 3, 2010
Source:
The Research Council of Norway
Summary:
A devastating tsunami hit southern Asia in December 2004. After the tsunami, both politicians and journalists believed that the natural disaster could help to bring peace to Sri Lanka and the Aceh province of Indonesia. But did it?

A group of researchers at the University of Oslo have studied the political ramifications of the tsunami and whether the largest ever relief and reconstruction effort launched after the disaster has helped to create peace. Their aim was to learn more about the connection between natural disasters and potential political conflict resolution.

Related Articles


War and the tsunami

The Aceh region has had a turbulent history vis-à-vis the central Indonesian authorities. The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesia government were still in a state of war when the tsunami hit the province in 2004. For many years Sri Lanka has experienced conflict and civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the government on one side and the Tamil minority on the other. Peace negotiations between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eealam, in which Norway played a leading role, broke down in 2003, and the conflict flared up again with a vengeance. When the tsunami hit during the Christmas holiday in 2004, Aceh and Sri Lanka were two of the areas hardest hit.

Different backgrounds, different outcomes

In the project entitled "Conflict resolution and democratisation in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami: A comparative study of Aceh and Sri Lanka," researchers conducted a comparative analysis of Aceh and Sri Lanka.

"The tsunami made it possible to find some answers to the role that natural disasters play in major political conflicts," explains Professor Kristian Stokke of the University of Oslo.

Dr Stokke, who headed the project, and his colleagues found that the tsunami had a completely different impact on political developments in Aceh and Sri Lanka. His conclusion is clear: "Natural disasters do not resolve conflicts. What they can do is to influence and possibly strengthen the political processes already underway. But as the cases of Aceh and Sri Lanka show, this can give rise to completely different outcomes."

Peaceful resolution in Aceh

After 29 years of conflict and warfare, a Memorandum of Understanding was finally signed on 15 August 2005 between the Government of Indonesia and GAM. The MoU gave the inhabitants of Aceh a greater degree of self-governance by reorganising the previous province into a special territory of Indonesia. They also gained the right to establish local political parties, paving the way for former members of GAM to win local elections in 2006.

"In Aceh, a political reform process had already begun when the tsunami hit. A significant anti-radicalisation process within GAM had been taking place in the years from 1999 to 2004. Parallel to this, the government in Jakarta had invested a great deal in finding a solution to the Aceh conflict. In this instance, the tsunami was an event that gave legitimacy to continued negotiations in the eyes of both the rebels and the government. Both parties seized this opportunity, but the tsunami was not the deciding factor. Rather it was the political process that had already begun," Dr Stokke believes.

Continued warfare in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, there was no similar positive process underway when the tsunami hit. On the contrary, the conflict was at an impasse.

"In 2004, both parties regarded war as essentially necessary. The tsunami did not get the pre-2003 peace process moving again. The only thing it did was to put the conflict on hold for a year. Then war broke out again."

The impact of development cooperation

As part of the project, the researchers compared the use of development cooperation funds in Aceh and Sri Lanka following the tsunami. They also found significant differences in this respect.

In Aceh, disaster relief after the tsunami was provided in the "traditional" way, as had been done many times in the past following war or natural disaster. In Sri Lanka, the approach to assistance was totally different. Both before and after the tsunami, donor countries such as Norway tried to use development cooperation funds as a tool for resolving the conflict in the country. The intention was to use these funds to build trust between the parties. Peacebuilding aid was a frequently used term.

"We can conclude that it was not possible to build trust between the parties by using development cooperation funds. Instead the aid in Sri Lanka became highly politicised. The donors were viewed as neo-imperialistic states intervening in a national conflict. As a result, the assistance provided served to intensify the conflict rather than resolve it," Dr Stokke concludes.

GAM and LTTE

A third part of the research project looked at what happened to the GAM and LTTE rebel movements following the tsunami. Once again, the situations were completely different. While GAM had been reorganised into a political party and became an integral part of Indonesian politics, the LTTE suffered a huge defeat and has now been crushed by the Sri Lankan government.

"Some attempts were made to reorganise the LTTE politically, but instead the rebels chose to follow a military logic. Today we know what the result was for the organisation and the people."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Research Council of Norway. The original article was written by Bård Amundsen/Else Lie; translation by Anna Godson/Carol B. Eckmann. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Research Council of Norway. "Natural disasters do not necessarily create peace, research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100902081808.htm>.
The Research Council of Norway. (2010, September 3). Natural disasters do not necessarily create peace, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100902081808.htm
The Research Council of Norway. "Natural disasters do not necessarily create peace, research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100902081808.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins