Theoretical Approaches to Research of Protracted Conflicts in Europe

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-11-47-57

S. Rastol'tsev, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23 Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (


Protracted conflicts belong to the most complex and controversial issues of the contemporary international security in Europe, both from a practical and from a research perspective. Conflicts of this kind in the post-Soviet space compose an especially acute problem. The article argues that in order to resolve them it is necessary not only to choose appropriate political and peacekeeping tools, but also to find adequate research tools. This requires to start primarily with a study of theoretical foundations. Although this topic is analyzed in a large number of works, theoretical approaches in the study of protracted conflicts are applied not deep and not wide enough. It is noted that many research and analytical works lack the use of theories from international and conflict studies, especially the interdisciplinary application of them. In addition, while using such theories for the analysis, specific features of protracted conflicts should be taken into account: the long-term character of unsettlement, distribution beyond a conflict area, their influence on different security levels, as well as formation of special “conflict” state of identity in areas of protracted crises. The article discusses several theories of peace and conflict research and international relations studies that help to enhance and structure research tools for a complex interdisciplinary analysis. These are: the theory of “protracted social conflicts”, the theory of regional security complexes, the securitization theory and the “ripeness” theory of conflicts. The practical application of these theories is shown in terms of two protracted conflicts in Europe, on the post-Soviet space – Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh cases. The author proposes to use these theories to study the phenomenon of protracted conflicts, which could help to structure and organize a research work at a conceptual level in order to overcome many difficulties in conflicts explanations. The combination of theories from different research fields gives an opportunity to conduct a comprehensive interdisciplinary study and find a new perspective for these seemingly intractable conflicts, as well as options for their possible resolution.


theoretical approaches, conflict resolution, protracted conflicts, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Transnistrian conflict 


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For citation:
Rastol'tsev S. Theoretical Approaches to Research of Protracted Conflicts in Europe. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2016, vol. 60, No 11, pp. 47-57.

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