Systematic Early Warning of Humanitarian Emergencies
by Barbara Harff and Ted Robert Gurr
Journal of Peace Research
vol. 35, iss. 5
pp. 551 - 579
More than 60 communal minorities were victimized as a result of internal wars and state failures between 1980 and 1996. Two theoretical models provide the basis for systematic early warning of future victimization of communal and political groups. The potential for communal rebellion is said to be a joint function of group incentives, group capacity, and opportunities for collective action. Indicators of these concepts from the Minorities at Risk project are used to identify 73 groups at high risk of communal rebellion in the late 1990s. Genocide and politicide are attributed to background conditions (e.g. political upheaval), intervening conditions (e.g. elite fragmentation), and a short-term increase in theoretically pre-specified accelerators. Monitoring of accelerators and de-accelerators in potential crisis situations provides a link between risk assessments based on structural models and early warnings of use to national and international policy-makers. The approach is illustrated by an analysis of accelerators prior to the occurrence of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.