Analysis of the Effects of Large-Scale Disasters on the Behavior of Non-State Violent Actors in Countries Already Under Duress

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Dylan Hyams


Over the course of human civilization, humanity has been exposed to major disruptions ofnormalcy due to the onset of naturally occurring large-scale disasters. In the midst of disaster,some societies have also dealt with intrastate conflicts that strain the already depleted resourcesnecessary for the survival and support of established institutions and governance. At the forefrontof my research is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which established itself in the fourth quarterof 2019 and has since then taken hundreds of thousands of lives and deteriorated severaleconomies around the world. For this paper, I will be analyzing the effects that disasters havewith respect to the behavior of non-state violent actors (NSVAs) and subsequent influence onconflict continuation, escalation, and de-escalation, as well as the NSVAs ability to legitimizethemselves in the view of the state and international community. I will be drawing on existingliterature, including the Ripe Moment Theory presented by Joakim Kreutz, to help explainbehavior and conflict before, during, and after a disaster; will be utilizing the ACLED ConflictDatabase to track conflict intensity both before and during the pandemic; and will be providingcase studies from multiple regions around the world to provide different contexts for distinctNSVAs. At the end of this paper, I come to the conclusion that the behavior of the NSVA andconflict continuation, escalation, and/or de-escalation, in the midst of a disaster, is bothmoderately dependent of the condition of the regime type, as well as the overall ambitions of theactors in question, whether that be political motivations or motivations of other interests.Additionally, I argue that states and NSVAs must come to a mutual agreement in theestablishment of relief services, and that states should attempt to negotiate with the NSVA in thefacilitation of the appropriate resources and guidance.

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