Development and Conflict

Olympio Barbanti, Jr.

August 2004

The Millennium Development Goals and Conflict

Additional insights into development and conflict are offered by Beyond Intractability project participants.

This section of the website explores the links between development and conflict, considering theory and practice from both sides. It is argued that the analysis and promotion of development has overlooked social conflicts that may be created by the changes required for successful development. These conflicts, however, act to hinder successful development. Thus the recognition of and attention to these conflicts is important if development is to be successful and the costs of these conflicts are to be reduced.

Since "development" is a very broad topic, we define it here in terms of the Millennium Development Goals. These goals were established by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 2000 in order to help developing countries promote change in eight core areas that would help reduce poverty and improve peoples' livelihoods. These goals are:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

4. Reduce child mortality

5. Improve maternal health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

7. Achieve environmental sustainability

8. Develop a global partnership for development

In a series of linked essays, this development "portal":

  • Analyzes the origins of development interventions, focusing on their colonial roots and the idea of "transference" involved in aid programs.
  • Discusses the links between capitalist development and conflict, highlighting how such connections have been disregarded by those working in the field of conflict studies.
  • Explores the institutional dimensions of development and conflict which are seen as paramount, as ignoring them may lead to a vicious circle, a sort of "catch-22" from which developing countries have no escape.
  • Explores avenues for conflict resolution or transformation in developing countries, stressing that interventions
    • must occur in many different systems (political, social, economic, and cultural)
    • at different levels (from the grassroots to the elite)
    • and from macro (structural) to micro (individual) issues.
  • Explores the way the interaction of conflict and development affect each of the eight Millennium Development Goals and Development and Conflict Theory.

Nine additional essays comprise a development "portal" or "section" of the Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base. These include:

While the essays can be read independently, together they take a fairly comprehensive look at the bi-directional relationship between development and conflict.


Use the following to cite this article:
Barbanti, Jr., Olympio . "Development and Conflict." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: August 2004 <>.

Additional Resources