CLASSIFICATION SIGNS OF WARS AND CONFLICTS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE Текст научной статьи по специальности «Языкознание и литературоведение»

i Надоели баннеры? Вы всегда можете отключить рекламу.
Ключевые слова

Аннотация научной статьи по языкознанию и литературоведению, автор научной работы — Vetreniuk A.A.

The article discusses current approaches to the typology of wars and conflicts, provides a generalized, structured theoretical material: the visions and theories of various scientists and organizations regarding the definitions, causes and typologies of wars and conflicts. The paper criticizes the existing attitudes to the definitions and typologies of wars and conflicts, since many of them seem to be unclear due to the presence of a number of open questions, including undefined criterias. Also, the author raises the issue of the ambiguity of some definitions, such as, for example, violent conflict. In the process of writing the article the author came to a few conclusions about the relationship between such phenomena as war and conflict, and also identified factors that make it possible to distinguish between these two concepts.

i Надоели баннеры? Вы всегда можете отключить рекламу.
iНе можете найти то, что вам нужно? Попробуйте сервис подбора литературы.
i Надоели баннеры? Вы всегда можете отключить рекламу.


УДК 327.5:355.01

DOI 10.34823/SGZ.2022.4.51848

А.А. ВЕТРЕНЮК магистрант кафедры регионального и муниципального управления факультета государственного управления Московского государственного университета E-mail: andreivetrenyuk@gmail.com

Классификационные признаки войн и конфликтов в политологии

В данной статье рассматриваются актуальные подходы к типологии войн и конфликтов, приводится обобщенный, структурированный теоретический материал: видения и теории различных учёных и организаций относительно дефиниций, причин и типологий войн и конфликтов. В работе приводится критика существующих подходов к определениям и типологиям войн и конфликтов, так как ко многие из них представляются размытыми, ввиду наличия к ним ряда вопросов, в том числе неоднозначные критерии. Также в работе автор затрагивает актуальные проблемы неоднозначности некоторых дефиниций таких, например, как насильственный конфликт. На основе проведённой работы автором были получены выводы о соотношении таких явлений как война и конфликт, а также были выявлены факторы, позволяющие различать эти два понятия.

Ключевые слова: война, конфликт, источники конфликта, насильственный конфликт, характеристики войны.

Definition and typology of conflicts

Conflict can be defined as disagreement or incompatibility between principles, interests or opinions. It is the state of opposition, antagonism or struggle. Peter Wallestein [9, p. 16] defines conflict as a situation in which two or more parties strive to acquire the same scarce resources at the same time.

Peter Moore [4, p. 60-61] identified five sources of conflict: values, relationships, data, interests and structure. The circle is adapted to include language as a source of conflicts and expands values conflicts to include adaptive challenges. The adapted circle depicts the six sources graphically. Understand that conflicts often have multiple sources. Sources of conflict that are

difficult to resolve tend to persist over time. This can be displayed as a circle divided into 6 sectors [5]. The sectors are structural conflicts, data conflicts, interest conflicts, values conflicts, language conflicts, relationship conflicts.

Structural conflicts are the most common type of conflict and include such sources are: how a situation is set up, formal role definition, time constraints, geographical or physical constraints, unequal power or authority, unequal control of resources. Sources of data conflicts are lack of information, misinformation, ideas of relevancy, interpretation of the data, assessment procedures. Interest conflicts cover just 2 sources, which are substantive and procedural. Values conflicts include 4 possible sources: adaptive challenges, world view, beliefs and principles, habits of mind and heart, personal identity. Next group of conflicts is language conflicts that have 3 various of sources: cross-talking, definitions, communication pLiterature. And the last type of conflict is relationship conflicts and include 6 different sources: troubled past history, strong negative emotions, habitual misperceptions, negative projections, defensive or aggressive reactions.

This typology of conflicts sources can be useful for understanding the roots of the conflict, as well as for choosing the right measures and corresponding policy for ending the conflict. Also, if the right sources were found, there's always a possibility for preventing this type of conflicts in the future. Finding a source of the conflict points out weaknesses of current policy. To be honest, there's also some other typologies of conflict sources and goals, but all of them highly correlate with the Circle of Conflict by C.W. Moore.

There are 2 major groups of conflict types depending on the geography of the conflict [2].

1. Intra-national conflicts. This type of conflicts is characterized by taking place inside one nation-state (or country) and all the sides of the conflict take place in one country. Therefore, we can barely include colour revolutions in this type, as there's other states actively supporting one of the sides (usually the opposition or protesters). Variety of intra-national conflicts is huge and can be:


Social group-to-social group;

Inter-ethnic frictions, hostilities, genocide;

Territorial or separatist conflicts;



Civil war.

2. Inter-national conflicts. These conflicts involve multiple state actors or non-state actors such as Al-Qaeda or ISIS. These conflicts can take many shapes, such as:

Nation state-to-Nation state;

Coalition (Alliance)-to-Coalition (Alliance)

Nation-state to non-state;

Non-state actor-to-Non-state actor.

There are also other typologies of conflicts. For example, Uppsala Conflict Data Project (UCDP) [8] has categorized armed conflicts into three different types.

Minor conflict: at least 25 battle related deaths per year

Intermediate conflicts: more than 25 and less than 1000 battle related deaths per year.

War: 1000+ battle related deaths per year

And the last, but not the least, on the basis of origin International Humanitarian Law (IHL) has divided conflicts into three different categories.

International armed conflicts: Armed conflicts between two or more than two countries. e.g., India China war, India Pakistan War, US Vietnam war.

Internationalized non-international armed conflicts: Interstate armed conflict where another state helps the insurgent groups. e.g., Armed conflict inside Syria.

Non-international armed conflicts: Interstate wars, e.g., Civil war of Nepal.

Summarizing, it's safe to say, that there's a lot of conflicts typologies and conflict-related typologies at the moment. However, every one of them is quite unique and brings in new details to the way of studying the conflicts. Applying those models to the real or past conflicts can provide valuable data and better understanding of the sources of conflicts, their process, and outcome.

Definitions of war

Currently there's 2 major approaches to a scientific definition of war - quantitative and qualitative. First approach is based on the numbers of deaths caused by violent clashes, regarding both direct and indirect causes. By that approach, conflict turns into a war when number of deaths crosses a certain threshold. This approach was briefly mentioned earlier. The most known and influential typology in terms of the quantitative approach was

developed by David Singer and Melvin Small in the framework of the 'Correlates of War (COW)' project [7, p. 243-270]. According to this approach, a war is any violent conflict with at least 1,000 killed combatants per year. To exclude genocides and sporadic massacres from this definition, both parties to the conflict must have organised themselves to commit collective violence, or the party with the least combatants must have inflicted at least five percent of their own losses on the opponent. However, this approach suffers some criticism. For example, some scientists say, that applying absolute numbers to evaluate whether it's a war or a conflict, is not relevant for small states. To solve this issue, they suggest to use the population proportional numbers of the affected states to assess more precisely.

Most quantitative approaches, however, have not yet been able to compete with the popularity of the threshold of 1,000 killed soldiers defined by Small and Singer. The conflict data base developed by the University of Uppsala in Sweden, which also was briefly mentioned earlier, offers a further development of the definition by COW [6]. It does not limit itself to the losses of the regular armies but also includes civilian casualties of direct physical violence. It allocates violent conflicts to three different intensity levels. While its definition of "war" still follows the COW approach of more than 1,000 deaths per year, it additionally differentiates between "smaller armed conflicts" (at least 25 deaths per year but less than 1,000 deaths in the entire conflict), and "medium-sized armed conflicts" (more than 1,000 deaths in the entire conflict but less than 1,000 deaths in each single year) (cf. map layer number of victims of war). This quantitative differentiation of different levels of intensity is useful as it takes into consideration violent conflicts beyond the "war" threshold.

On one hand, definition of war that is based purely on the number of victims has a number of statistical advantages and helps to compare wars in historic retrospective, on the other hand, it has a number of serious issues such as indirect deaths, caused by social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts of the wars. Furthermore, the number of victims can easily be manipulated by the involved sides.

This leaves us a question, whether a war should be identified purely by its direct effects, or by its characteristics, patterns and overall logic. This brings us to qualitative definitions of war. One of those definitions was made by Istvan Kende. He distinguished 3 base characteristics of war.

"Two or more armed forces are participating in the fighting, at least one of which are regular fighting forces (military, paramilitary units, police) of the government;

There must be a minimum of central control of the fighters on both sides, even if this manifests itself as organised armed defence or planned assaults (guerrilla operations, partisan war, etc.);

Armed operations continue and are not occasional, spontaneous clashes; i.e., both sides operate according to a planned strategy regardless of whether fighting takes place on the territory of one or more societies and of how long they take."

However, this approach has its weaknesses as well. For example, state actors and state borders are not taken into account. Also, there's an understanding of war as of status-quo, as in the quantitative definitions. And the criteria of separating wars and violent conflicts is not so clear, though it's said that "violent conflicts (...) that do not entirely fulfil the criteria of a war.". So, we can surely say that war is the type of violent conflict between 2 or more actors, but the key features of defining war and conflict depend on different approaches. It can be the number of victims, social, economic, politic impact, caused by those actions, systematic and directed actions and others.

Typologies of war

The Working Group for Research on the Causes of War (AKUF) [1] at Hamburg University, which was mentioned earlier, differentiates following wars, based on causes and goals.

"anti-regime wars" ("wars about the overthrow of the ruling party or the change or maintenance of the political system").

"wars about autonomy- and secession" ("wars about a larger regional autonomy within the state or the secession from the state").

"interstate wars" ("wars in which the armed forces of established governments confront at least two state territories, regardless of their status under international law").

"decolonisation wars" ("wars about the liberation from colonial rule").

Other wars (if the war doesn't clearly fit any of four other types).

This kind of typology can be problematic as there's often more than one cause manifests in one individual conflict. Also, the goals of the involved parties tend to change throughout the conflict process.

This brings us to another typology of wars, which is based on the actors involved.

Symmetric, intra-state wars. A violent conflict between two states.

Asymmetric, war between a state and a non-state party.

Asymmetric wars, however, can be divided in two sub-categories.

Intra-state violent conflict. A war between a non-state actor and a state in one's state borders.

Extra-state (extra-symmetric) violent conflict. It takes place between one non-state actor and one state actor outside of state's borders. For example, as in the war of Western NATO states against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Uppsala Conflict Data Program develops this idea and adds one more type of wars - internationalized intra-state conflicts. This means one non-state actor fights state actor supported by assistance of other states withing the existing borders. Also, the German political scientist Sven Chojnacki adds one more type to this typology "Sub-state violent conflicts". Which means violent actions between two non-state actors in existing borders of a state.

Besides, we can highlight typology of wars that is based on the used generation of weapon [3, p. 22-26]. 1st Generation warfare (1648-1860), 2nd Generation Warfare (WWI), 3rd Generation Warfare (late WW I and throughout WWII), 4th Generation Warfare (During and post Cold War). And we can apply same typologies of sources and goals of conflicts, which were mentioned earlier, onto wars.

As we can see, typologies of conflicts and wars are very alike. The reason is that war is a type of conflict. Consequently, most classifications of conflicts and their constituent parts are absolutely applicable in relation to the assessment of wars. At the same time, it is worth drawing a line between "conflict" and "war", which was done in this work. We believe that there is no single correct approach in defining war as a type of conflict. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages for different situations.


1. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kriegsursachenforschung (AKUF). Kriegsdefinition und Kriegstypologie URL: https://www.wiso.uni-hamburg.de/fachbereich-

sowi/professuren/jakobeit/forschung/akuf/kriegsdefinition.html (Accessed 10.05.2022)

2. Goldstone, Jack A., et al. (2009): State Failure Task Force Report: Phase III Findings. McLean, VA: Science Applications International Corporation, 30 September 2000.

3. Lind, William S.; Nightengale, Keith; Schmitt, John F.; Sutton, Joseph W.; Wilson, Gary I. (October 1989), "The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation", Marine Corps Gazette

4. Moore, The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict; 2nd edition, 1996

5. Pillsbury J. B. The Circle of Conflict Adaptation. Based on Christopher W. Moore's Circle of Conflict URL: https://partnership-academy.net/_files/2000031543265441fd/Circle%20of%20Conflict%20 Adaptation.pdf (Accessed 02.05.2022)

6. Sarkees, Meredith R. (2010): The COW Typology of War: Defining and Categorizing Wars (Version 4 of the Data).

7. Singer, J.D., The "Correlates of War" Project: Interim Report and Rationale World Politics Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jan., 1972).

8. Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Department of Peace and Conflict Research. URL: https://ucdp.uu.se/ (Accessed 23.04.2022)

9. Wallensteen. 'Understanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace and the Global System', Sage, 2011.

A.A. VETRENIUK Master's student of the Department of Regional and Municipal administration of the School of Public Administration, Moscow State University

Classification signs of wars and conflicts in political science

The article discusses current approaches to the typology of wars and conflicts, provides a generalized, structured theoretical material: the visions and theories of various scientists and organizations regarding the definitions, causes and typologies of wars and conflicts. The paper criticizes the existing attitudes to the definitions and typologies of wars and conflicts, since many of them seem to be unclear due to the presence of a number of open questions, including undefined criterias. Also, the author raises the issue of the ambiguity of some definitions, such as, for example, violent conflict. In the process of writing the article the author came to a few conclusions about the relationship between such phenomena as war and conflict, and also identified factors that make it possible to distinguish between these two concepts.

Keyword: war, conflict, sources of conflict, violent conflict, characteristics of war.

i Надоели баннеры? Вы всегда можете отключить рекламу.