Understanding the Root Causes of Conflicts: Why It Matters for International Crisis Management

By Marie Doucey

The analysis of protracted conflicts often fails to properly identify the root causes that lead to violence and broken societies. This paper tries to shed light on the way causal analysis and holistic approaches to examining conflicts can enhance crisis management and conflict resolution methods. The author embraces the human needs theory that considers conflicts as the result of a process driven by unfulfilled needs and collective fears. Understanding the root causes of conflict and its psychological dimension is crucial for sustainable peace building. In this paper, the author identifies some lessons that can be learned from the recent crisis in Côte d’Ivoire as well as from the latest events in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and puts emphasis on the significance of human needs approach for conflict resolution in such cases. By analyzing the deep-rooted causes of protracted and violent conflicts, the author argues that crisis management can be successful only when basic human needs are met and collective fears are addressed.

About the author:
Marie Doucey is a M.A. candidate in International Security Policy, pursuing a dual degree program at Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from Sciences Po and now focuses on international conflict resolution and human security. In 2010, the Global Consortium on Security Transformation published her one-year research paper on the nexus between gender and human security in the Haitian-Dominican border zone. Her academic interests also cover crisis migration; she worked as a case manager in the US counter-trafficking program of the International Organization for Migration in Washington, D.C. and as a protection officer in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Paris, France.

Image courtesy of Rene Ehrhardt.

Download PDF: 

About Us

The International Affairs Review is a graduate student-run publication of the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Follow us on:

Submission Guidelines

The International Affairs Review is currently accepting article submissions. Submissions for the website are accepted on a weekly basis with a deadline of 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time each Thursday. Submissions for the print journal are accepted continuously, with article selection occurring at the beginning of each semester.

Click here for more information


Opinions expressed in International Affairs Review are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Affairs Review, The Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, or any other person or organization formally associated with International Affairs Review.

Click here for more information

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact our team with any questions or concerns.

Website: iarweb@gwu.edu
Print Journal: iar@gwu.edu

The Elliott School of International Affairs
George Washington University
1957 E Street, NW
Room 303-K
Washington, DC 20052