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We can see that conflicts around the world have different causes. Put very simply, it is obvious that not all conflicts occur for the same reasons. For example, the root causes of the conflict in Rwanda in 1994 were different to the causes of the current conflict in Syria. The subject guide for Global Politics gives the examples of greed vs. grievance (as in Columbia and Sierra Leone), territorial control, material interest, resource scarcity, ideology, threatened identity and perception.
In this double lesson we will look at two case studies in more detail. The first, in Sierra Leone, was arguably caused by grievance but continued for so long due to greed. The second, in Northern Ireland, was arguably caused by a combination of threatened identity and greed. You will notice the use of the word 'arguably'. This is because it is can be difficult to say, with any certainty, what exactly the causes of a conflict are as it involves some measure of perception by the different parties to a concept.
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Watch the following video and takes notes. You should pay particular attention to the causes of the conflict in Sierra Leone. As with most conflicts we have looked at, it can be confusing at first - lots of names you haven't heard of and the historical context can be tricky. If necessary, watch the video more than once.

Having watched the video, what would you say were the root causes of the conflict in Sierra Leone? Was it, for example, a war over resources or was it caused by by poor governance and corruption?
Read the following article published by CIGI (the Centre for International Governance Innovation). In it, the author argues the that whilst the conflict was fuelled by the fight for resources (specifically blood diamonds and minerals), the root cause was poor governance.


You can find the original article online here
Based on the two sources we have looked at (and with the proviso that it is impossible to build a complete picture based on only two sources) what were the causes of the conflict in Sierra Leone?
It is important that you familiarise yourself with this conflict as it is one that you can use in the exam to support your arguments in this unit. It may also form the basis for an interesting Global Challenges Presentation for HL students.
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The conflict in Northern Ireland is, like many conflicts, difficult to explain in terms of simple causes. One of the reasons for this is because parties to the conflict - as well as outsiders - see the causes as being very different. Some of the elements include identity, religion, economic and political discrimination - both real and perceived.
The key questions we are trying to answer here is "What combination of factors led to the conflict in Northern Ireland" and "What role does identity play in the Northern Ireland Conflict?"


This article is taken from the History Channel and provides a reasonably detailed historical context to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.



Homework: