Rising Powers and Interdependent Futures

central asia map on grey background

Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia

Project details

Discipline: International Relations
Funded Period: September 2012 – September 2015
Rising powers: China, Russia
Additional countries: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan


The project aims to explain the reasons for and the consequences of the failure of Western approaches to conflict management to gain traction in Post-Soviet Central Asia. It contrasts these approaches with those promoted by Russia and China, both bilaterally and through regional organisations, and looks at the effects of these on national conflict management strategies.

The project’s case studies are three significant outbreaks of violence in recent years: in Khorog, Tajikistan, in 2012; in the Rasht valley of Tajikistan in 2010-11; and in Osh, Kyrgyzstan in 2010. In each case the international responses were complex and partly divergent along traditional lines of geopolitical competition.

The project team will conduct interviews in London, Beijing and Moscow with policymakers, academics and NGOs, to assess the ways in which policymakers framed and understood these conflict situations. Fieldwork in Central Asia will assess local views in Osh and Rasht regions, both of the nature of the conflict, but also of the divergent international responses. It will also seek to identify and assess societal and state practices of conflict management which may diverge from those prescribed in Western approaches.  The research seeks to improve our understandings of such divergent approaches to conflict management with the aim of more effective responses to conflict in the region, in the context of emerging relations between Rising Powers and the West. Furthermore it will explore the effects of conflict management on the formation of states in Post-Soviet Central Asia.

Project team

The project involves a team of three academics from the universities of Exeter and Newcastle, working together with the London-based NGO Saferworld.

Principal Investigator

Dr John Heathershaw, University of Exeter (J.D.Heathershaw@exeter.ac.uk).

Other members of the core team

Dr David Lewis, Co-Investigator, University of Exeter
Dr Nick Megoran, Co-Investigator, Newcastle University
Mr Ivan Campbell and colleagues, Co-Investigator, Saferworld

Apart from a wide range of intended academic outputs, the project is designed to inform discussion among Russian, Chinese, Western and Central Asian policy makers about different ways to manage and resolve conflict, thus attempting to improve mutual understanding in a region of potential strategic competition and political volatility.


Co-Investigator Dr David Lewis discusses the project 'Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia'.