About the Centre for the Study of Civil War at PRIO

The Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW) at PRIO is a long-term, multidisciplinary initiative that seeks to understand:

  • why civil wars break out
  • how they are sustained, and
  • what it takes to build a durable civil peace

Civil war is now the dominant form of war. It inflicts tremendous human suffering, in terms of casualties and refugees, in addition to severely damaging societies, economies and the environment. Civil war is more frequent in poor countries and further weakens their prospects for economic development. Yet civil war is less studied than interstate war.

CSCW aims to clarify the ways in which actors respond to civil war, in all its phases from onset to post conflict, whether as primary participants, general citizenry, or intervening powers. The staff of CSCW includes PRIO researchers and eminent scholars from other institutions in several countries including countries with a record of recent conflict. Together with doctoral candidates and selected MA students, they bring the insights and complementary strengths of economics, history, political science, philosophy, demography, geography, and sociology to bear on a set of related research questions.

CSCW research seeks to strengthen the foundation for preventive and conflict-resolving initiatives of governments and other public bodies, organizations that participate in peace-building operations, and agencies assisting refugees in war zones.

The Centre’s methodological toolkit includes game theory, micro- and macroeconomics, quantitative statistical analysis, comparative case studies and historical-source criticism. The work of all groups, and of the centre as a whole, has an iterative dynamic, going from theory-building to empirical case materials, and back again.

CSCW was organized into eleven working groups. All staff have a primary assignment in one group, but are encouraged to participate in several to enhance cross-fertilization.

CSCW Director: Scott Gates
CSCW Chief Administrator: Andrew John Feltham
PRIO Director: Kristian Berg Harpviken
Board Chair:  Bernt Aardal (Institute for social research)


Centre of Excellence (CoE) is a distinction accorded to CSCW by the Research Council of Norway. The CoE scheme was introduced in Norway with the intention of bringing more researchers and research groups up to a high international standard. In 2002, after an extensive and competitive selection process led by international experts, the council awarded CoE status to 13 of 129 applicants. PRIO’s proposal was judged to be of ‘exceptionally high scientific quality’. The total number of Centres rose to 21 in 2006 when a new round of applications was held in addition to a midway evaluation of all existing CoEs. CSCW secured a second five-year period of funding after the evaluation, again receiving top scores from the referees.