The “Post-Cold War” world presents staggering contrasts. On the one hand, the threat of annihilation has receded, totalitarianism seems to be in retreat and there is greater interest in such issues as sustainable development, human rights and good governance. On the other hand, however, political and economic instability seem chronic in many regions, and there is a sense of drift both within many countries and at the global level. Prominent on the “new agenda” of world politics is the apparent rising tide of communal conflicts around the planet: a trend which has both positive and negative aspects. Communalism is a threat to both the material and ideational foundations of the nation-state, and potentially, to the entire international status quo; but precisely because communal conflicts so often turn violent and have proved resistant to traditional methods of containment and resolution, they have stimulated the search for more innovative, more comprehensive, and more fully human approaches to dealing with conflict.

Author Bio(s)

Charles O. Lerche teaches political science, international relations and international management at several institutions including: the University of Limburg/Maastricht, the University of Kent at Canterbury’s Brussels School of International Studies, and Boston University Brussels. He is coauthor of Concepts of International Politics in Global Perspective, and has published articles in academic journals on African politics, and peace and world order studies.


communalism, Joseph V. Montville, Post-Cold War, reconciliation, truth commissions

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