Based on Working Paper No. 37 David Keen, 'Demobilising Guatemala'. This Briefing Paper is intended to provide a summary of the principal findings, and an indication of the implications these may have for debates over policy.
War is often seen as a conflict between competing 'sides' where the aim is to win. However, the aims in a war may be quite diverse and may include, for example, the acquisition of wealth and the suppression of democratic forces - aims which may be better served by prolonging the war than by winning it. Rather than assuming a sharp break between war and peace, it may be more productive to suppose that conflict is ever-present, that conflict is shaped at a variety of levels by various groups who create and manipulate it for various reasons, and that conflict in peacetime is in many ways a modification of conflict in wartime. Keen's paper explores the implications of such continuity in the context of Guatemala, and in particular the faltering process of demobilisation. Beginning with an examination of the vested interests of armed groups, the paper goes on to look at the role that shame has played in the peacetime actions of the counter-insurgency structures, ending by commenting on how new global 'wars' represent new opportunities to reframe local conflicts.
Briefing Paper No. 16, The Continuities of Conflict in Peacetime, 2004, London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 2 pp.