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GIGA Focus Global

Fleeing the Peace: Emigration after Civil War

Number: 2 | 05/2016 | ISSN: 1862-3581

Flight and emigration often continue despite the formal termination of war and significant international peace-building efforts because the international community often fails to address the root causes of flight and migration. Donors primarily aim at mitigating the direct consequences of war and pacifying elite groups rather than delivering peace dividends that benefit the broader population.

  • The decision to flee during peacetime often closely relates to structural problems. Where peace is reduced to the mere absence of war and is of low quality, it is difficult to overcome major social cleavages. Thus the reasons for emigration persist.

  • Three factors shape the quality of peace across specific contexts: (i) the level of violence beyond the recurrence of war, (ii) the degree of access to justice and political participation beyond a formal change of the political regime, and (iii) the generation of social and economic prospects and social mobi lity.

  • Nepal and El Salvador are illustrative examples of the interplay of these factors at the interface between state and society. In these countries, state repression and other forms of violence persist, the political system is dominated by traditional elites or those that fought the war, and youths and former combatants lack prospects for the future.

Policy Implications

International actors need to adapt their strategies in post-war societies in a way that they support the broader population and not just the interests of the elite. While the termination of war and the introduction of democratisation might be first steps in this direction, they alone do not automatically lead to sustainable quality peace.


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The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

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