Trade and Conflict: a network approach

To what extent does the promotion of intra-regional trade help reduce conflicts in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and South America?


Starting with the classical preoccupation of the philosopher Montesquieu: “[c]ommerce is a cure for the most destructive prejudices; for it is almost a general rule, that wherever we find agreeable manners, there commerce flourishes; and that wherever there is commerce, there we meet with agreeable manners”; this project questions the crucial hypothesis according to which “peace is the natural effect of trade”.

The recent proliferation of international conflicts in some regions highlights the need for a better understanding of their determinants. The Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are regions that have low levels of intra-regional trade and a high propensity to international conflict. This project aims at exploring how the promotion of intra-regional trade in the examined regions can help reduce conflicts. A special focus will be put on the role that trade relationships and trade agreements can play in this context. While most of the literature focuses on the importance of overall trade or bilateral trade on peace, the project will furthermore explore the role of indirect trade linkages or trade networks for bilateral and regional peace.


  • International trade
  • Armed conflicts


  • Economics
  • International relations
  • Political science


International Organisations:


Relevant Countries

  • All countries


This project, started in 2013, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Marcelo Olarreaga
University of Geneva

Marcel Vaillant
Universidad de la Republica

Manuel Flores
Principal Member
Universidad de la Republica

Simon Hug
Associated Member
University of Geneva

Mathias Thoenig
Associated Member
University of Lausanne