Conflicts and Development in Emerging States


Even a most unenthusiastic person living in a land far away would easily say that the world is a place where barely anything is just and barely anybody is equal. Although the international community finds itself in a never-ending daily struggle for a better world, this dream might never come true. The reasons for this ultimately failed battle are diverse, but they have roots in the history of humanity. Despite being denied its significance on many occasions, history continues to presuppose the future of many people, communities, and even nations. The linkage between two is so strong that it is hardly possible to break the vicious circle and set society on the right path to the general welfare, which is assumingly a goal of any country.

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It is hard to accept historical disparities, but there is no other way than to reconcile with them and live further, trying to create a better future for one’s kind. Historic grievances are dangerous, as they make people’s minds focus on the past and its ambiguities, which are often intentionally interpreted in a wry way. Thus, it is crucial not to give rein to those people who tend to ignite old feelings and start the conflicts in places without the iron-bound system, in other words, developing countries. Such states are especially prone to conflicts, as they are usually notorious for their complicated past and lack of independent experience.

These factors serve as obstacles but can be exploited by different groups that see them as a way to cause terror and usurp power by sparking conflicts that have various social, economic, and political implications for entire nations. This essay aims to look at how these three types of implications influence developing countries in their entirety and what linkages exist between the three of them.


The word “society”, first and foremost, makes one think about social aspects of the world. As people are social creatures and eventually prefer being in an organized setting, any country is based on a complicated but cohesive foundation of numerous social linkages among the members of a particular society. Such links may include social trust, stability, reliability, and many other factors that set a basis for further development.

In the situation of conflict, people are immediately deprived of these simple things, which can lead to the feeling of insecurity. In this context, both ontological and physical types of insecurity are implied, as one usually goes along with the other. The social foundation of a country is of significant importance, as it directs the members of this society in their ordinary everyday lives and gives meaning to their daily activities.

Another way to look at the social impact of conflicts in developing countries is to consider developing countries where animosity was sown when the parties of the conflict used violence. One example is especially astonishing in terms of the violence of one group towards the other. The case in mind is Rwanda, where a civil war between 1990 and 1994 led to the death of a vast amount of people, especially the ethnic minority called Tutsi (Dona, p. 13).

One cannot expect that in the country where members of one group murdered the members of the other group viciously, there will ever be social peace and harmony. However, nevertheless, Rwanda shows that it is possible to set a country on the path of development. However, at least, in this case, one might be skeptical about the long-term social consequences of the conflict, and whether or not these events will be used as a reference to ignite conflicts again. The main reason for that is the feeling of insecurity and distrust among the members of different groups within the scope of one society.

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Many would argue that the classification of states according to their wealth and economic capacities may be a rather basic way to view the world today. However, it is the most common type of stratification, and it proves to be practical and helpful on many occasions. Depending on the country’s GDP, its natural resources, foreign debt, etc. one may judge country’s achievements, or straight conversely, its failures.

However, by looking at bare figures, one can quite easily neglect the inequalities behind the numbers. As argued by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz in his famous book “The price of inequality”, despite the overall growth of people’s welfare, the disparities between developed and developing countries will continue to increase. In this light, he suggests that developed countries should give developing countries “the right to development” and not impede their development by imposing additional obstacles (Stiglitz, p. 398).

What Stiglitz emphasizes is that developing countries have been systematically oppressed and forced into a subservient position. The arguments originating in the research of postcolonial scholars support this idea of Stiglitz, they go along with each other in many senses. Economic subordination is one of the leading causes of the instability penetrating most developing states.

Maintaining stable economies takes time, but also a lot of favorable circumstances that can stimulate the growth of the economy. Conflicts, in this vein, bear dramatic consequences for developing nations, as they worsen already dull conditions. As the core of liberal economic peace theory says, conflicts wreck economic activities (Kim, p. 423). In the case of developing countries, conflicts can decrease the amount of investment received by the country, which is in desperate need of them. FDI (Foreign direct investment) is essential for the development of such countries, as its flow can improve economies, and its lack can further impoverish people who are already poor and severely marginalized.

Bearing in mind that the amount casualties in armed conflicts in 2014 reached the highest number in 25 years, the expectations regarding fruitful economic improvement in developing countries remain at a rather low level (Gates, p. 1). The argument of Stiglitz about the ever-increasing gap between developing and developed countries seems to be more persuasive and easier to agree with. It can be then concluded that conflicts have a somewhat negative impact on the economies of developing countries, as they damage already vulnerable economic systems.


One of the most general trends of today is how increasingly intertwined various areas of life become. This trend concerns the relationship between politics and economics to a vast extent. Political decisions have a direct impact on economic outcomes, but also economic incentives are highly influential within the decision-making process. The whole field, called political economy, is devoted to studying these interlinkages to show how multifaceted the world is and that solutions to the real challenges can be found only with the help of an interdisciplinary approach. Moreover, some may say that political economy also engages sociology to define how various spheres of life affect each other within the social sphere of life.

Developing countries are no exception when it comes to an understanding of how the system should work and what is needed in order to start positive improvements feasible for the whole population of the country. As was previously discussed, conflicts play a negative role in the development process of developing countries. As a rule, conflicts are also accompanied by unstable political situations.

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Such political chaos causes both domestic and international troubles for developing nations, as it usually turns into a protracted crisis without a clear start and end, as they are very difficult to define. When a country does not have a functioning government and governance, a nation gets caught up in the state of anarchy. The implications of anarchy are traumatic, as any authorities cannot protect their people, and these people become exposed to perilous situations involving violence.

There are different examples from all over the world of how political instability led to further oppression of particular groups of people in the country. For example, in its report assessing the impact of war in Yemen, UNDP explained how feelings of marginalization caused political tensions between southern and northern parties in the country. Furthermore, tensions caused a brief civil war, as the result of which many military officers were forced to retire, political leader of the losing side went into exile, and lands and property in the south of the country were widely redistributed (Moyer, et al., p. 16). This case demonstrates how social and economic grievances led to political crisis and how political decisions further hardened the position of the most vulnerable members of society.


This essay is an attempt to briefly review three types of impact which conflicts have on developing states. Although the definition of the conflict itself was not discussed, it has been understood throughout the whole work as a complex process of tensions between different parties often involving violence. All conflicts concern people living in the country, though probably to a different extent. As has been discussed, developing countries due to their histories are more prone to conflicts.

In an already vulnerable setting inclined to conflicts, the situation may get bad pretty fast, but also can last longer with no clear ending point. That is why so many developing nations find themselves in the state of a protracted conflict. Whole generations of people grow up observing instability, feeling insecurity, and vulnerability. There is a lack of prerequisites for stable development and consequent improvement of political, economic, and social aspects of life in such countries. In this essay, two examples of developing countries were brought up to demonstrate the negative influence of conflicts on the developing countries.

These examples also justify the argument that conflicts should not be understood in its conventional meaning any longer, as their nature is resistant to the idea of having a defined start and end. Hence, most developing countries that have experienced conflicts can easily be trapped in a never-ending state of anarchy.

The debate around possible advantages of conflicts has not been taken into account in this essay, as the number of cases demonstrating this is a handful. There is barely any substantial evidence proving that conflicts positively influence developing countries. However, this may be a potentially exciting topic for an extended discussion about the impact of conflicts on developing countries.


Donà, G. (2018). “Situated Bystandership” During and After the Rwandan Genocide. Journal of Genocide Research, 20(1), 1-19.

Gates, S., Nygård, H. M., Strand, H., & Urdal, H. (2016). Trends in armed conflict, 1946–2014. Conflict Trends, 1, 1-4.

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Kim, D. (2016). The effects of inter-state conflicts on foreign investment flows to the developing world: Enduring vs ephemeral risk of conflicts. International Political Science Review, 37(4), 422-437.

Moyer, J. D., Bohl, D., Hanna, T., Mapes, B. R., & Rafa, M. (2019). Assessing the Impact of War on Development in Yemen. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): Sana’a (Republic of Yemen), 1-67.

Stiglitz, J. E. (2015). The price of inequality: how today’s divided society endangers our future. In Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility, 379-399.

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StudyCorgi. "Conflicts and Development in Emerging States." June 29, 2021.


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