The Causes of Frozen Conflicts in the South Caucasus

Publication Year



South Caucasus, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Frozen Conflict


Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies


This thesis aimed to answer the following question: What prevents the ethno-territorial frozen conflicts in the South Caucasus from being resolved? For the purposes of this study, frozen conflicts are defined by the following conditions: a cessation of hostilities, though there may be smaller-scale violence, at least one party takes a principled position in opposition of a solution, and the level of interaction between various conditions prevents its resolution. This presents an interesting equilibrium between factors pushing towards resolution and conflict, in which there is no active military conflict but neither is there a political settlement. Through a combination of a qualitative historical approach and an analysis of competing hypotheses, I argue that conflicting identities and ideologies, state institutional responses to ethno-national plurality, and significant external influences are the principal causes of ethno-territorial frozen conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. However, these methodological approaches were used not only to highlight their similarities, but also to show the nuances in each conflict differentiating them from one another. Though all three variables are principal causes of all three frozen conflicts, they achieve the same frozen conditions via distinctive modes of interaction.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

International Relations

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