Stonehill Political Science Professor Anna Ohanyan specializes in studying regions that are fragmented by 'frozen' conflicts. Characterized by 'no war and no peace,' such conflicts have become more prevalent in regions as diverse as the Balkans, the Mediterranean, South East Asia, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. All too often, they defy traditional conflict management interventions by third parties, whether single states, their coalitions or international organizations such as the United Nations.
In her new book, Networked Regionalism as Conflict Management, published by Stanford University press and due out in April, Ohanyan argues that alternative approaches to settling frozen conflicts are urgently needed, and explores new options and opportunities that may be available to the world community for addressing these conflicts.
In her work, Ohanyan views frozen conflicts through the lens of the geographic regions in which they occur. She explores multiple cases of current and past frozen conflicts, from Northern Ireland to the Balkans to the South Caucasus, both through on-the-ground fieldwork with diplomats and peacebuilding practitioners as well as with the study of governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Ohanyan’s conclusions may serve as a wake-up call to mediators and peace negotiators worldwide. Ohanyan finds that effective solutions to frozen conflicts do not necessarily come from Washington D.C. or European Union or the United Nations. Instead, she determines that frozen conflicts are most successfully addressed when the countries that surround the conflict commit to encompassing and assimilating the conflicting sides into existing regional arrangements.
In particular, Ohanyan advocates for ‘region-building’ as a policy priority for areas mired in protracted frozen conflicts.
“An effective process entails redesigning the way foreign aid is distributed in conflict areas; incorporating the conflict area, and the conflicting parties, into regional trade arrangements, or security groupings, or even regional environmental or law enforcement organizations; investing in building professional associations in tourism and transport, agriculture and energy,” explains Ohanyan.
Currently, she adds, “most conflict regions are institutional deserts, void of regional organizations and their networks. Trying to orchestrate conflict management processes in such conditions has produced very little in the way of establishing successful and working peace in such regions.”
In Networked Regionalism as Conflict Management, Ohanyan cautions policymakers and politicians alike that such protracted conflicts demand these new regional approaches if they are to be settled.
Ohanyan’s work in Networked Regionalism as Conflict Management is gaining critical recognition. As Susan Allen, the Director of the Center for Peacemaking Practice at George Mason University wrote:
"This is an exceptional, truly outstanding work. It bridges multiple theories of international relations, draws on the best of each of these, and presents a much-needed new approach to addressing current real world problems. I hope policymakers will take heed, and further embrace the possibilities of regionalism."
About the Author
Ohanyan is Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Stonehill College. She spent the 2012-2013 academic year as a Fulbright Fellow in Armenia and the South Caucasus, teaching and conducting research on regionalism and conflict management. Her first book appeared in 2008, titled “NGOs, IGOs, and the Network Mechanism of Post-Conflict Global Governance in Microfinance” (Palgrave Macmillan).
In addition, she has published widely on international organizations, conflict resolution and peacebuilding in such settings as Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Afghanistan. Ohanyan has also held positions at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Her research has been supported by organizations including IREX, the Fulbright Commission, the German Marshall Fund, the U.S. State Department, the Eurasia Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, the World Bank, the National Intelligence Council Project, the Carter Center, USAID, and Stonehill College.