The Role of Diasporas in Conflict

This paper seeks to examine the role of diaspora populations in the perpetuation or resolution of violent conflict in their homelands. The goal is to demonstrate the increasingly significant role diasporas play in international affairs and the importance of viewing diaspora groups as separate actors in a conflict, often with different motivations. Diaspora groups are capable of exerting disproportionate influence over events in their countries of origin, due to disparities in economic wealth, freedom of expression, and influence on governments in their adopted homelands. Concurrently, the conflict-related priorities of such groups may differ from actors on the ground, with diaspora groups often attaching significant weight to symbolic issues of identity and principle. Therefore, diaspora groups exert significant outside influence and, in some cases, may worsen or prolong conflicts in which they become involved. However, this paper argues that shifting trends in international conflict and advances in technology have made diaspora groups, the factors that make their engagement in homeland conflicts unique, and their ability to improve or worsen conflict. Ultimately, it argues, the international community must acknowledge the importance of diaspora groups and actively engage them in order to maximize their capacity for creating peace.

Amanda Roth
February 01, 2015