Past event

Research Event

Referendums and Ethnic Violence: Voting in South Sudan and Ukraine

Chatham House, London

Africa Programme, Horn of Africa Project, Russia and Eurasia Programme

Event documents

Meeting Summary
pdf | 48.96 KB


Dr Matt Qvortrup, Lecturer, Centre for Policy Studies, University College London; Author Referendums and Ethnic Violence
Janet Gunn, Independent Analyst
Chair: Dame Rosalind Marsden, Associate Fellow, Africa Programme, Chatham House


Referendums have played a pivotal role in the recent political history of both Africa and Europe. In Kenya in 2010, a national vote on constitutional reform was seen as necessary to quell the ethnically-charged violence following the country’s 2007 presidential election. South Sudan, the world’s newest country, was born out of a referendum which sought to end dominance from Khartoum. Similarly, a number of hastily organized referenda in parts of Ukraine this year have effectively redrawn the geopolitical map of Europe.  

At this event, Dr Matt Qvortrup, author of the recently published book Referendums and Ethnic Violence, will discuss the merits of determining complex political matters with a simple yes or no vote, and will examine whether referendums can actually be a tool to produce peaceful outcomes. In particular, he will examine the recent examples of South Sudan and Ukraine.