Topic: Violence against civilians and forced migration

Thesis timeframe: 2020-2021
Application deadline: 02 Nov 2020


The security environment of civilians is shaped by the types and spatial distribution of violence. Existing studies show that violence against civilians—not surprisingly—exacerbates forced migration outflows (Rüegger 2017), but current studies on the effect of one-sided violence are limited. This is unfortunate, as a core feature of today's conflicts has been the deliberate targeting of civilians by a wide range of armed actors, both governmental and non-state. By disaggregating armed conflict into its various forms, intensities, and perpetrators (government or rebels), we can gain a better understanding of why some conflicts generate massive outflows of migrants, while others do not. This prospective MA thesis will examine the relationship between violence against civilians, perpetrated by either government or rebel actors, and forced migration. The thesis can employ existing data and link geographical conflict and migration data and examine the relationship using statistical models. Existing conflict data can be extracted from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program's Georeferenced Event Dataset (UCDP GED), or the Armed Conflict Location Event Dataset (ACLED). To conduct the study, the student would need to use Geographical Information System to connect the datasets, preferably R or similar statistical scripting languages that support geospatial data.