Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

Author's Keywords

conflict; turkey; kurds; management; negotiation


The Turkish-Kurdish conflict has ravaged Turkey for nearly 34 years. It is one of the world’s longest enduring rivalries, garnering significant international attention. Since 1984, experts estimate that at least 30,000 people have died in this conflict. In just the past two years, the fighting has killed 3,362 peopleand displaced another half million people. Although the parties have attempted to resolve this dispute multiple times, a comprehensive peace deal has remained elusive. So what should be done about this conflict? Is there a way to compel these parties to forge a lasting peace deal? Or, should the international community focus on ameliorating the most pernicious effects of the conflict until peace seems more attainable?

This paper will begin by recounting a short history of the Kurds in Turkey, the beginnings of the insurgency, and the former attempts at peace negotiations. Then, it will analyze the most recent negotiation between Turkey and the PKK, followed by a discussion of the reasons that those negotiations collapsed and recent developments in Turkey. This paper will then elucidate four primary strategies that the literature has suggested to resolve ethnic conflicts and discuss why each of those models seems unlikely to resolve the Turkish-PKK dispute. This paper will conclude by anticipating the possibility for another round of peace negotiations and will introduce a new, conflict-management model to promote cooperation between the parties until they can reach a comprehensive peace deal.

Lay Summary

This paper examines the history of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict and the possibility for resolving it. It recommends a new way to understand the relationship between the Turks and the Kurds and explores ways for them to cooperate while they continue to fight.