In this lesson, we’ll discuss the difference between international conflict and intranational conflict, and how both types of conflicts occur.
The particular areas of focus include:
While they sound very similar, international conflict and intranational conflict are two different things.
As you probably know, international conflict (also known as interstate conflict) refers to conflict between separate nations.
On the other hand, intranational conflict (also known as intrastate conflict) refers to conflicts that arise within a nation. Typically, this type of conflict occurs between different ethnic groups within a country.
Because one nation is often home to multiple cultural groups with different values and traditions, these differences can sometimes lead to intranational conflict.
In current events and throughout history, there have been many instances of intranational conflict. In Iraq, there was and still is conflict between the Sunnis, Kurds, and Shia, depending on who is in power. In Syria, the Sunnis, Kurds, and Shia are all sectors involved in the current civil war being fought to take power from Assad.
Some other examples include the conflict in Bosnia between the Serbs and the Muslims, the conflict in Rwanda between the Hutu and the Tutsis, and the conflict in Sudan between the Muslims and the Christians.
Within a nation, there can be different groups competing for things such as power, resources, and wealth.
Conflicts can also arise between groups who may have been at war in the past, or who have had animosity for one another for years or even centuries.
a. Social Identity Theory
One way to explain the reasons behind intranational conflict is through Social Identity Theory, which discusses the concept of in-groups and out-groups.
When conflicts like this have been going on for so long with elements of control and discrimination, members of groups involved begin to associate their identities very strongly with their particular group.
In some cases, such as with the Hutu and the Tutsis in Rwanda, this conflict became so severe that it led to genocide.
Intranational conflicts often arise out of discrimination between groups, and control by one group over another. Quite often, this is the result of a competition for power, wealth, or resources; if one group has the political power, that group may not be sharing its wealth and resources with the other group.
With a long and intense conflict comes a strong identity with the in-group, which can perpetuate the conflict.
Although intranational conflicts are happening within a single country, other countries often respond.
This response leads to two separate issues:
Sovereignty refers to the established right of a nation or a recognized government to determine its own policy and law in its country.
Nations have a right to decide how they want to run things, and what their laws and policies will be.
So when one group is implementing policies that discriminate against another group, this is technically the right of the country’s government within its borders.
Conversely, interconnection refers to how the conflicts and the decisions made in one country impact other countries.
This impact is particularly strong in instances of human rights violations, as seen in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan.
If these human rights violations are disturbing and offensive enough, as they are in genocide, the international community will respond.
This can result in trade embargoes, cutting off aid to a country, and perhaps even military intervention, which occurred in Bosnia.
When the actions of one country, or sovereign nation, impact the values and the conditions of the rest of the world, other nations often respond because of this interconnection.
In this lesson, you learned the difference between international conflict and intranational conflict. International conflict occurs between separate nations, but intranational conflict occurs between groups within a single nation. Social Identity Theory is one way to explain the causes of intranational conflict, as the longer a conflict has gone on, the more strongly members of the groups involved associate their identities with their particular group.
You now understand that international conflict can sometimes occur as a response to intranational conflict. This response from outside countries can lead to issues of sovereignty, or the right of a country to make its own rules and policies, and interconnection, or the impact of one country’s conflicts on other countries.
Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Marlene Johnson.
In international conflict, the understanding that the decisions of one country have an impact on other countries through various kinds of formal and informal relationships.
Conflict between differing groups on a national scale within the boundaries of a single political state/entity.
The established right of a recognized government to determine internal policy and law of its country.