Conflict Patterns

Coordinator: Marianne Dahl

​​​​Is the world becoming more peaceful? The overarching goal of all peace research, including PRIO, is to promote this trend. It is therefore not surprising that PRIO is engaged in tracking conflict trends. For a large number of trends, the current statistics convey a very pleasant result: The world getting more peaceful!

​The Conflict Patterns group is:

  • Collecting data on political violence in many different forms and shapes. Our aim is to both update existing numbers and discover new concepts of political violence that should be tracked
  • Analyzing and discussing external data sources. PRIOs rather unique mix of researchers from different subjects assure a healthy combination of perspectives and methods
  • Thinking forward! What are the key obstacles to peace on earth, and how might we best understand what direction these obstacles might be developing? And, crucially, examining whether we can, effectively, interfere positively in these processes.

Research Group News


Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Rustad, Siri Aas (2016) Socioeconomic Inequalities and Attitudes toward Violence: A Test with New Survey Data in the Niger Delta, International Interactions 42(1): 106–139.
Buhaug, Halvard; Lars-Erik Cederman & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (2016) Ulikhet, eksklusjon og borgerkrig [Inequality, Exclusion, and Civil War], Politica 48(1): 12–29.
White, Peter B.; Dragana Vidovic; Belén González; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & David Cunningham (2015) Nonviolence as a Weapon of the Resourceful: From Claims to Tactics in Mobilization, Mobilization 20(4): 471–491.
Gates, Scott & Sukanya Podder (2015) Social Media, Recruitment, Allegiance, and the Islamic State, Perspectives on Terrorism 9(4): 107–116.
Kim, Woosang & Scott Gates (2015) Power Transition Theory and the Rise of China, International Area Studies Review 18(3): 219–226.
Brehm, John & Scott Gates (2015) Bureaucratic Politics arising from, Not Defined by, a Principal-Agency Dyad, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 25(1): 27–42.
Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv (2015) Prediksjon i internasjonal politikk [Predicting international politics], Internasjonal Politikk 73(4): 467–487.
Marsh, Nicholas (2015) Firearms Seizures and Trafficking: A «Local» Phenomenon, The Strategic Trade Review 1(1): 73–87.
Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv (2015) The role of international organizations in regime transitions: How IGOs can tie a dictator’s hands, Conflict Management and Peace Science. DOI: 10.1177/0738894215599554.
Tollefsen, Andreas Forø & Halvard Buhaug (2015) Insurgency and Inaccessibility, International Studies Review 17(1): 6–25.
Linke, Andrew; Sebastian Schutte & Halvard Buhaug (2015) Population Attitudes and the Spread of Political Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa, International Studies Review 17(1): 26–45.
Knutsen, Carl Henrik & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård (2015) Institutional Characteristics and Regime Survival: Why Are Semi-Democracies Less Durable Than Autocracies and Democracies?, American Journal of Political Science 59(3): 656–670.
Hegre, Håvard & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård (2015) Governance and Conflict Relapse, Journal of Conflict Resolution 59(6): 984–1016.
Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv & Michael Weintraub (2015) Bargaining Between Rebel Groups and the Outside Option of Violence, Terrorism and Political Violence 27(3): 557–580.
Holtermann, Helge (2014) Relative Capacity and the Spread of Rebellion: Insights from Nepal, Journal of Conflict Resolution. DOI: 10.1177/0022002714540470.
Holtermann, Helge (2014) How Can Weak Insurgent Groups Grow? Insights From Nepal, Terrorism and Political Violence. DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2014.908775.
Strand, Håvard & Henrik Urdal (2014) Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing: Can states reduce the risk of armed conflict by banning census data on ethnic groups?, International Area Studies Review 17(2): 167–183.
Buhaug, Halvard; Lars-Erik Cederman & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (2014) Square Pegs in Round Holes: Inequalities, Grievances, and Civil War, International Studies Quarterly 58(2): 418–431.
Gleditsch, Nils Petter; Steven Pinker; Bradley A. Thayer; Jack S. Levy & William R. Thompson (2013) The Forum: The Decline of War, International Studies Review 15(3): 396–419.
Gleditsch, Nils Petter (2013) The Decline of War - The Main Issues, International Studies Review 15(3): 397–399.
Lacina, Bethany Ann & Nils Petter Gleditsch (2013) The waning of war is real: a response to Gohdes and Price, Journal of Conflict Resolution 57(6): 1109–1127.
Hegre, Håvard; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård; Håvard Strand; Henrik Urdal; & Joakim Karlsen (2013) Predicting Armed Conflict, 2010-2050, International Studies Quarterly 55(2): 1–21.
Urdal, Henrik & Kristian Hoelscher (2012) Explaining Urban Social Disorder and Violence: An Empirical Study of Event Data from Asian and Sub-Saharan African Cities, International Interactions 38(4): 512–528.
Gates, Scott; Håvard Hegre; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Håvard Strand (2012) Development Consequences of Armed Conflict, World Development 40(9): 1713–1722.
Holtermann, Helge (2012) Explaining the Development–Civil War Relationship, Conflict Management and Peace Science 29(1): 56–78.
Tollefsen, Andreas Forø; Håvard Strand; & Halvard Buhaug (2012) PRIO-GRID: A Unified Spatial Data Structure, Journal of Peace Research 49(2): 363–374.
Hallberg, Johan Dittrich (2012)PRIO Conflict Site 1989–2008: A Geo-Referenced Dataset on Armed Conflict , Conflict Management and Peace Science 29(2): 219–232.
Hegre, Håvard;Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv; & Hultman, Lisa (2011) Simulating the Effect of Peacekeeping Operations, 2010-2035 , Lecture Notes In Computer Science 6589325–332.
Raleigh, Clionadh;Linke, Andrew;Hegre, Håvard; & Karlsen, Joakim (2010) Introducing ACLED: An Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset: Special Data Feature , Journal of Peace Research 47(5): 651–660.
Elbadawi, Ibrahim;Milante, Gary; & Hegre, Håvard (2008) Introduction: The Aftermath of Civil War , Journal of Peace Research 45(4): 451–459.


Gates, Scott & Kaushik Roy (2014) Unconventional Warfare in South Asia, Shadow Warriors and Counterinsurgency. Farnham: Ashgate.
Roy, Kaushik (2014) Military Transition in Early Modern Asia, 1400- 1750: Cavalry, Guns, Governments and Ships. London: Bloomsbury.
Cunningham, Kathleen Gallagher (2014) Inside the Politics of Self-Determination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cederman, Lars-Erik; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & Halvard Buhaug (2013) Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics.

Book Chapter

Strand, Håvard & Halvard Buhaug (2016) Armed Conflict, 1946–2014, in Backer, David; Ravinder Bhavnani; & Paul Huth, eds, Peace and Conflict 2016. New York: Routledge (19–24).
Gates, Scott; Håvard Hegre; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Håvard Strand (2016) Development Consequences of Armed Conflict, in Pérouse de Montclos, Marc-Antoine; Elizabeth Minor; & Samrat Sinha, eds, Violence, Statistics, and the Politics of Accounting For the Dead. Berlin: Springer (25–45).
Hegre, Håvard & Idunn Kristiansen (2016) Global, State, and Individual Security in Quantitative Conflict Research, in Schlag, Gabi; Julian Junk; & Christopher Daase, eds, Transformations of Security Studies: Dialogues, Diversity and Discipline. New York: Routledge (190–215).
Checkel, Jeffrey T. (2014) Identity, Europe, and the world beyond public spheres, in European Public Spheres: Politics Is Back. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (227–246).
Bennett, Andrew & Jeffrey T. Checkel (2014) Process tracing: from philosophical roots to best practices, in Bennett, Andrew; & Jeffrey T. Checkel, eds, Process Tracing: from Metaphor to Analytic Tool. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (3–37).
Checkel, Jeffrey T. (2014) Mechanisms, process, and the study of international institutions, in Bennett, Andrew; & Jeffrey T. Checkel, eds, Process Tracing: from Metaphor to Analytic Tool. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (74–97).
Checkel, Jeffrey T. & Andrew Bennett (2014) Beyond metaphors: standards, theory, and the 'where next' for process tracing, in Bennett, Andrew; & Jeffrey T. Checkel, eds, Process Tracing: from Metaphor to Analytic Tool. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (260–275).
Schneider, Gerald & Nils Petter Gleditsch (2013) The capitalist peace: Origins and prospects of a liberal idea, in Schneider, Gerald; & Nils Petter Gleditsch, eds, Assessing the Capitalist Peace. London: Routledge .

Edited Volume

Schneider, Gerald; & Nils Petter Gleditsch, eds, (2013) Assessing the Capitalist Peace. London: Routledge.

Non-refereed Journal Article

Urdal, Henrik; Gudrun Østby & Nils Petter Gleditsch (2014) Journal of Peace Research, Peace Review 26(4).
Buhaug, Halvard; Henrik Urdal & Jack S. Levy (2014) 50 Years of Peace Research: An Introduction to the Journal of Peace Research Anniversary Special Issue, Journal of Peace Research 51(2): 139–144.

Popular Article

Sagmo, Tove Heggli ; Marta Bivand Erdal; Rojan Tordhol Ezzati; Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård (2015) Innvandringsdebatt på feil premisser [Wrong premises for the debate about immigration into Europe], NRK Ytring.
Rudolfsen, Ida (2015) Islam og konflikt [Islam and conflict], Ny Tid.
Gleditsch, Nils Petter & Ida Rudolfsen (2015) Brannen i islams hus [The Fire in the House of Islam], Aftenposten Innsikt.
Østby, Gudrun; Henrik Urdal & Ida Rudolfsen (2014) Utdanning Skaper Fred [Education Creates Peace], Dagsavisen.

Conference Paper

Hegre, Håvard;Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv;Strand, Håvard; & Gates, Scott 2012The Conflict Trap , presented at American Political Science Association Annual Meeting.
Buhaug, Halvard; & Henrik Urdal (2010) An Urbanization Bomb? Population Growth and Social Disorder in Cities, presented at DKNVS 250 Anniversary Conference on Climate Change and Security, Trondheim, 21 June.
Hegre, Håvard;Hultman, Lisa ; & Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv 2010 Evaluating the Conflict Reducing Effects of UN Peace-Keeping Operations, presented at American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, , 1–5 September.

PRIO Policy Brief

Gates, Scott; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård; Håvard Strand & Henrik Urdal (2016) Trends in Armed Conflict, 1946–2014, Conflict Trends, 1. Oslo: PRIO.
Paasonen, Kari & Henrik Urdal (2016) Youth Bulges, Exclusion and Instability: The Role of Youth in the Arab Spring, Conflict Trends, 3. Oslo: PRIO.
Gates, Scott; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Esther Trappeniers (2016) Conflict Recurrence, Conflict Trends, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv & Michael Weintraub (2016) Rejecting Peace? Legacies of Violence in Colombia, Conflict Trends, 4. Oslo: PRIO.
Nordås, Ragnhild (2015) Civilian Targeting by Militias: The Important Role of States, Conflict Trends, 7. Oslo: PRIO.
Ukiwo, Ukoha O. & Siri Aas Rustad (2015) Nigeria’s Presidential Election 2015, Conflict Trends, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Svensson, Isak & Magnus Lundgren (2015) Patterns of Peacemaking, Conflict Trends, 4. Oslo: PRIO.
Hoelscher, Kristian; Jason Miklian & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård (2015) Understanding Attacks on Humanitarian Aid Workers, Conflict Trends, 6. Oslo: PRIO.
Buhaug, Halvard & Ida Rudolfsen (2015) A Climate of Conflicts?, Conflict Trends, 5. Oslo: PRIO.
Gleditsch, Nils Petter & Ida Rudolfsen (2015) Are Muslim Countries More War-Prone?, Conflict Trends, 3. Oslo: PRIO.
Hegre, Håvard; Lisa Hultman & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård (2015) Peacekeeping Works: An Assessment of the Effectiveness of UN Peacekeeping Operations, Conflict Trends, 1. Oslo: PRIO.
Gates, Scott; Håvard Hegre; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Håvard Strand (2014) Development Consequences of Internal Armed Conflict, Conflict Trends, 3. Oslo: PRIO.
Dahl, Marianne; Scott Gates; Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Håvard Strand (2014) Ukraine and the Role of the Security Forces in Popular Uprisings, Conflict Trends, 2. Oslo: PRIO.
Hegre, Håvard & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård (2014) Peace on Earth? The Future of Internal Armed Conflict, Conflict Trends, 1. Oslo: PRIO.

PRIO Paper

Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv; Thomas Wheeler & Henrik Urdal (2016) Options for Measuring Conflict Deaths in Goal 16, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.
Buhaug, Halvard & Jonas Nordkvelle (2014) Climate and conflict: A Comment on Hsiang et al.'s Reply to Buhaug et al., PRIO Paper. Oslo: Peace Research Institute Oslo.

Report - Other

Marsh, Nicholas; Aaron Karp; & Giorgio Ravalgi (2015) UNODC Study on Firearms 2015 Vienna: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Report - External Series

Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv; & Håvard Hegre (2015) Protracted Conflict and Development in the Arab Region , E/ESCWA/ECRI/2015/2 UNESCWA Trends and Impacts Issue No. 4 , 4. New York: United Nations.
Østby, Gudrun; & Henrik Urdal (2014) Conflict and Educational Inequality: Evidence from 30 Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Commissioned report for USAID. USAID.

Blog Posts

Trends in Armed Conflict, 1946–2014

Posted by Scott Gates, Håvard Mokleiv Nygård, Håvard Strand & Henrik Urdal on Friday, 29 April 2016

Headlines from battlefields in Syria, Libya​​, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine give the impression that the world is becoming ever more violent. Indeed, since 2013 the number of armed conflicts in the world and the number of battle deaths has risen. Fortunately, the long-term trends nevertheless driving the waning of war are still at work.​ Since the Korean War, battle casualties have been declining. As a result of the civil wars in Syria and Iraq, casualties have risen to the highest level in 25 years, but are still far below levels of the Cold War. The number of conflicts has also risen in 2013 and 2014, ...

Suicide Bombing ≠ Religious Fervor

Posted by Ragnhild Nordås on Friday, 8 April 2016

Is it just religious fanatics who blow themselves up as suicide bombers? Bernt Hagtvet, Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo, has been active in the Norwegian media lately, stating that only religion (he focuses mostly on Islam) brings the fervor to commit suicide attacks as part of a political struggle – or “only religious totalitarian movements have capabilities to create a fanaticism strong enough to suicide.” This is not true. Firstly, there is ample evidence showing that a deterministic relationship between suicide missions and having a religious agenda or ideology is wrong. It is right that more ...

In Defence of the Reviled 20th century

Posted by Håvard Strand & Stein Tønnesson on Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The century of peace. The 20th century laid the foundations for what could make our century a century of peace. The 20th century is often referred to as the bloodiest in human history. Towards the end of that century, the historians Eric Hobsbawm, Gabriel Kolko and Niall Ferguson published general narratives entitled, respectively, Age of Extremes, Century of War, and The War of the World. Last year there were many publications warning against the outbreak of a new world war of the same kind as the one unleashed by the Guns of August one hundred years earlier. Yet, in spite ...

Attacks on Humanitarian Aid Workers: Five New Findings

Posted by Jason Miklian, Kristian Hoelscher & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård on Tuesday, 1 December 2015

More aid workers are being targeted in violent attacks than ever before, but the roots of humanitarian insecurity have nuanced and surprising causes. Syria. Afghanistan. Mali. Central African Republic. Today’s complex conflicts seem to be defined by insurgents, terrorist groups and other violent actors with ideologies that increasingly disregard the rules of war. Over 150,000 people died in conflicts around the world last year, with a further 59 million displaced – the highest total ever recorded. Troublingly, aid worker attacks have increased in tandem. Headlines relay stories of humanitarian aid workers caught in the middle, killed either in the fog of war – or ...

War is Development in Reverse

Posted by Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Henrik Urdal on Friday, 25 September 2015

The UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals are ready for adoption. For the first time, the UN will measure the incidence of one of the most controversial, but important, development indicators: the amount of armed conflict in the world. On 25 September this year, a UN summit will adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals. These will replace the Millennium Development Goals dating from 2000, which expire this year. Originally Norway pressed for the Millennium Development Goals to include the goal of a more peaceful society. This turned out to be too controversial. Several countries feared that such a goal would legitimize ...

Institutional Characteristics and Regime Survival: Why Are Semi-Democracies Less Durable than Autocracies and Democracies?

Posted by Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Carl Henrik Knutsen on Monday, 10 August 2015

In Zaïre (currently DR Congo) in 1991, the country’s personalist ruler Mobutu Sese Seko faced popular unrest, army mutinies, and shrinking resources for patronage. Mobutu was seemingly starting to lose his grip on power, which he had held since the mid-1960s. In response, Mobutu ended the decades-long ban on political parties other than his own Popular Movement of the Revolution, promised free and fair elections, and entered into a coalition government. Yet, a couple of years later ‒ after the situation had “calmed down”, and after having shored up army support ‒ Mobutu reversed the liberalization measures. Almost 150 years ...

The "Resister’s Toolkit"

Posted by Erica Chenoweth on Monday, 29 June 2015

In his article in the May 2015 issue of APSR, Evgeny Finkel makes a splash by arguing that exposure to “selective repression” (such as surveillance, beatings, arrests, and torture) helps dissidents to develop a robust skill set with which to maintain enduring resistance later on. He supports this argument with data from an unlikely case—Nazi repression against three Jewish ghettos during the Holocaust—and shows how operational skills (the “resister’s toolkit”) often develop as an indirect result of past exposure to state repression. These skills then help dissidents to remain active in resistance even when the state is engaging in widespread, ...

The Reality of Firearms Trafficking

Posted by Nic Marsh on Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The film The Lord of War and high profile trial of Victor Bout helped to seal in the public imagination the image of an illicit arms trafficker as being someone who smuggled planeloads of Kalashnikovs around the world and into war zones. Such characters do exist, but the reality of firearms trafficking (especially outside war zones) is very different. With two exceptions, the 48 participating countries did not have wars on their territories, so the study provides a picture of trafficking associated with criminality (and crime accounts for far more deaths than armed conflict).  Some of the findings from the study show ...

Surprising Trends Uncovered in New Homicide Visualization

Posted by Nic Marsh on Thursday, 21 May 2015

PRIO is a partner in a new global homicide monitor that has just been published. Hosted by the  Igarapé Institute in Brazil, the monitor presents counts and estimates of global homicide over the period 2000-2014 and is intended to provoke reflection and stimulate debate. The Monitor reports 437,000 homicides in 2012, the last year for which global estimates are available. A small number of countries account for a disproportionately large share of the global burden of homicide. For example, it is estimated that 2 out of every 5 people murdered around the world live in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela or South Africa. ...

The Victory of Mustafa Akıncı in Northern Cyprus gives Hope to Turkish Cypriots of a Better Future

Posted by Rebecca Bryant on Monday, 18 May 2015

Northern Cyprus held the second round of its presidential election on 26 April, with Mustafa Akıncı defeating the incumbent President, Derviş Eroğlu. Rebecca Bryant writes on what the result of the election might mean for the people of northern Cyprus and future negotiations with the Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus. She notes that while Akıncı’s victory has been met with euphoria on both sides of the island, all indications are that he will not only work toward a federation, but will also seek to defend the interests of Turkish Cypriots. Entrenched political parties are crumbling these days in the Eastern Mediterranean. The ...

A Climate of Conflicts?

Posted by Halvard Buhaug & Ida Rudolfsen on Thursday, 7 May 2015

Political violence correlates strongly with climate: Civil conflict risk is seven to ten times higher in dry and tropical climates than in continental climate zones. Yet, there is little evidence that climatic variability and change are important in understanding this pattern. The prospect of climate change causing forced migration and food and economic insecurity, meanwhile, raises new concerns about possible future conflict scenarios. Climate change is not likely to have a common and universal effect on armed conflict risk. Indirect effects of climate on conflict may work via migration, food insecurity or economic shocks. Many of the factors that increase ...

Patterns of Peacemaking

Posted by Isak Svensson & Magnus Lundgren on Thursday, 30 April 2015

When do we see international mediation, and what are the impacts? International mediation is a form of diplomatic intervention aimed at reaching negotiated solutions to armed conflict, political violence and international crises. Used by states, organizations, groups or individuals, mediation continues to be an important form of peacemaking. We outline the major trends in international mediation, identify relevant empirical trends and discuss implications for policy. Mediation increases the likelihood of short-term peaceful settlement of conflicts. While international mediation has become increasingly common, many conflicts are still unmediated. The distribution of mediation is globally skewed, with Europe and the Middle East ...

Islam and Conflict

Posted by Ida Rudolfsen on Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The number of civil wars worldwide has fallen in recent years, but meanwhile the number of civil wars in Muslim countries is increasing. From early on in the 21st century, we have also seen a marked growth in the number of active groups of Islamist insurgents. The media in Western countries focus strongly on terrorism and threats from the Muslim world. Are Muslim countries really more violent than others? And if they are, is it the West that is paying the price? In 2012, there were six civil wars worldwide (defining “civil war” as a conflict resulting in more than ...

The Consequences of Internal Armed Conflict for Development (part 1)

Posted by Scott Gates, Håvard Hegre, Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Håvard Strand on Wednesday, 8 April 2015

War is a development issue. War kills, and its consequences extend far beyond deaths in battle. Armed conflict often leads to forced migration, long-term refugee problems, and the destruction of infrastructure. Social, political, and economic institutions can be permanently damaged. The consequences of war, especially civil war, for development are profound. In this two-part post, we examine the development consequences of internal armed conflict. Part 1 focuses on how conflict affects development. Part 2 turns to the conflict trap and the post-2015 development agenda. Development in reverse The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) has investigated the consequences of internal armed ...

The Fire in the House of Islam

Posted by Nils Petter Gleditsch on Friday, 20 March 2015

Generally speaking, the global map of conflict is increasingly shaped by armed conflicts involving Muslims on one side or the other, or on both. Are Muslim countries particularly belligerent? Is the religion to blame? Despite the numerous items of bad news delivered by the mass media on a daily basis, a global overview of armed conflict shows several positive trends. During most of the Cold War, there was an increase in the number of ongoing armed conflicts worldwide, but the number decreased sharply after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This trend is even stronger if we restrict our survey ...

Oil and Military Intervention: Are the Conspiracy Theorists Right?

Posted by Kristian Skrede Gleditsch on Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Since wars in oil-producing countries may affect the price of, and access to, oil, the so-called conspiracy theorists may be correct that the presence of oil may be a weighty factor in favour of intervention. When a third-party country intervenes in a civil war, the intervention is usually justified as being in pursuit of honourable political or humanitarian goals. NATO cited protection of the civilian population as its primary goal when intervening in Libya in 2011, while France cited prevention of Islamic terrorism when intervening in Mali in 2014. But many sceptics have expressed doubt about these stated goals, instead ...

The Window of Opportunity Closes in Nigeria

Posted by Ukoha O. Ukiwo & Siri Camilla Aas Rustad on Monday, 16 February 2015

On 14 February, the population of Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy, were supposed to go to the polls to elect a new president. This election might have proven a watershed in Nigerian history. For the first time, the opposition had a realistic opportunity to take over from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has held power ever since free elections were re-introduced in 1999. The security problems in the north-east of the country have made the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) postpone the election until 28 March. This may prove an effective barrier for the opposition, and increase the risk of an explosion ...

Data Challenges in Conflict Research

Posted by Idean Salehyan & Henrik Urdal on Monday, 9 February 2015

Quality data is at the heart of quality research. The scholarly community depends on valid, reliable, and easily accessible data in order to empirically test our theories of social and political processes. Yet quantitative data is not “truth” in an absolute sense, but rather, is a numeric representation of complex phenomena. For conflict researchers, the challenge of collecting quality data is particularly acute given the nature of our enterprise. Given the costs and risks involved, it is practically impossible to observe every battle, civilian massacre, human rights violation, or protest event. Therefore, we often rely upon other sources — journalists, ...

Peacekeeping Works

Posted by Håvard Hegre, Lisa Hultman & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård on Thursday, 5 February 2015

An assessment of the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations The increase in the deployment of UN ‘blue helmets’ is a key driver of the gradual decline in the number and severity of armed conflicts worldwide since the mid-1990s. This brief summarizes a study that assesses the complete, long-term effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations. It shows a remarkably strong combined effect of UN operations’ ability to contain the lethality of wars as well as preventing them from reerupting or spreading. Peacekeeping reduces the level of violence in conflict Peacekeeping decreases the duration of conflict Peacekeeping increases the longevity of peace An ...

More on the Waning of War

Posted by Nils Petter Gleditsch on Tuesday, 27 January 2015

On 22 December I reported in this blog on an article by political science professor Øyvind Østerud 18 December in the leading Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that attacked Steven Pinker and ‘large parts of peace research’ for using ‘relative numbers’, i.e. numbers weighted by population, to assess long-term trends in the severity of war. In my brief response to Østerud, published in the print version of Aftenposten on 28 December, I pointed out that both absolute and relative numbers of battle-related deaths have declined after World War II. I also argued that although criticizing established truths is an important part of the ...

Poor Research or What?

Posted by Nils Petter Gleditsch on Monday, 22 December 2014

A Norwegian political scientist published an article in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten on 17 December where he criticized the ‘waning-of-war’ argument promoted by, among others, Steven Pinker and ‘major parts of peace research’. Curiously, the article was published in the paper’s column for ‘dårlig forskning, flau formidling, kunnskapsløse politiske forslag og ren fusk’ (‘incompetent research, poor popularization, political proposals without a knowledge base, and sheer fraud’). The article does not explain which of these mortal sins were committed by Steven Pinker and the peace research crowd. Be that as it may, below follows my reply to the article. A shorter ...

Education Creates Peace

Posted by Gudrun Østby, Henrik Urdal & Ida Rudolfsen on Wednesday, 10 December 2014

On 10 December Nobel’s Peace Prize 2014 is awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai. Critical voices have claimed that their work is more about rights activism than promoting peace and that there is no obvious association between education and peace. Research into the causes of war suggests, however, that the Nobel Committee was right on target. A good prize The human rights activists Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai were awarded the Peace Prize in recognition of their campaigns for the rights of children and young people and for the right to education. While in the past the Nobel Committee ...

Development Consequences of Internal Armed Conflict

Posted by Scott Gates, Håvard Hegre, Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Håvard Strand on Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The development consequences of armed conflict are profound and far-reaching. While the direct victims of war understandably receive most attention, the effects of conflict extend far beyond battlefield casualties and refugee camps. Research has shown that conflict affects all aspects of development covered by the Millennium Development Goals, and that conflict has been an important impediment to achieving these goals.  The consequences of conflict extend far beyond the battlefield. PRIO has documented substantial negative effects of conflict on most developmental indicators. The indirect effects of conflict may be as great as the direct effects. There is a clear case for ...

War Breeds War

Posted by Håvard Mokleiv Nygård on Monday, 8 September 2014

As a result of civil wars, some of the world’s least developed nations are now further away from achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals than they were when the goals were first adopted.  The UN General Assembly adopted the Millennium Development Goals in September 2000. Following lengthy debate, the assembly agreed on eight goals that the whole world could endorse. The eight goals centred on poverty and hunger; child mortality; maternal mortality; education; HIV/AIDS; equality; sustainable development; and global partnerships for development. The deadline for achieving the goals is the end of 2015. Many countries have now achieved all eight ...

Is it Acceptable to Lie for a Good Cause?

Posted by Henrik Urdal on Friday, 5 September 2014

Humanitarian organizations may easily succumb to the temptation to misuse numbers and statistics in order to promote their own causes. Does the end justify the means? Disasters are most dangerous for moms reported Save the Children’s Carolyn S Miles in Huffington Post when presenting the organization’s State of the World’s Mothers report for 2014. The claim was followed by a number: women and children are ‘14 times more likely to die in a disaster than men’. A sky-high number when one is talking about differences in death rates and a colossal injustice if the information is reliable. But it’s not. ...

The Paradox of 2014

Posted by Erica Chenoweth on Friday, 18 July 2014

In recent weeks, a number of people have asked me whether I think we’re headed for World War III. Maybe it’s the intense media coverage of the centennial of WWI. Maybe it’s all the violence heating up in Israel & Gaza, Iraq, and Ukraine, and wars raging in Syria, Nigeria, and DRC. Maybe it’s the fact that several of these wars are activating great power tensions in ways that haven’t been seen since the Cold War, or that diplomatic crises are shaking the United States’ friendships with foundational allies. Maybe it’s the speculation by some pundits that we are, indeed, ...

Ukraine and the Role of the Security Forces in Popular Uprisings

Posted by Marianne Dahl, Scott Gates, Håvard Mokleiv Nygård & Håvard Strand on Thursday, 12 June 2014

The recent uprising in Ukraine echoes what happened in the earlier Orange Revolution. Much can be learned by comparing these events and looking at similar uprisings in other countries. This comparison clearly shows the important role played by security forces in determining whether brutal repression or successful regime change will follow. How the security forces react is intimately linked to the tactics employed by civil society. Brief Points: Nonviolent revolt is much more likely to succeed. This has been evident in Ukraine and the Arab Spring.  The actions of security forces largely determine the success of popular uprisings, as seen in ...

Peace on Earth? The Future of Internal Armed Conflict

Posted by Håvard Hegre & Håvard Mokleiv Nygård on Thursday, 12 June 2014

The last 20 years have seen a gradual decline in the number and severity of internal armed conflicts worldwide. This trend is partly due to widespread improvements in factors such as education levels, economic diversification, and demographic characteristics. These factors are projected to continue to improve for the remainder of this century. As a consequence, the world should continue to grow ever more peaceful. In a new policy brief – launched at the JPR 50th anniversary celebrations today – and the first one out of the PRIO Conflict Trends project – we offer more in-depth comments on the following points: ...

Climate Change and War

Posted by Nils Petter Gleditsch on Thursday, 17 April 2014

The day after the publication of the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the effects of climate change, Norwegian daily newspaper Dagsavisen was able to report that Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment now envisaged a future world with more conflicts. This is in line with claims made earlier by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Against this background, I embarked with some anticipation on the report’s 2,679 pages. I found that each of the four chapters that address this question gives a slightly different answer. The question is discussed most thoroughly in the chapter on ...

Violence and Non-Violence in Ukraine

Posted by Marianne Dahl on Monday, 24 February 2014

​​​The Ukrainian opposition is more likely to succeed if its campaign remains primarily non-violent, writes Marianne Dahl, Doctoral Researcher at PRIO. ​This is not the first time that Kiev’s streets have been filled with demonstrators wanting to end Viktor Yanukovych’s days in the presidential palace. In 2004, the Orange Revolution spread across the country and brought Viktor Yushchenko to power. While demonstrations against Yanukovych’s incumbent regime had started as early as 2001, it was first on 22 November 2004, following well-documented vote-rigging, that the protesters’ ranks swelled dramatically with millions of Ukrainians defying the bitter cold to express their discontent. ...

Why does Democratization Occur in Waves?

Posted by Håvard Hegre on Sunday, 12 January 2014

The ‘Arab Spring’ demonstrated that political transitions tend to occur together in space and time. Samuel Huntington coined the term ‘Waves of democratization’ in his book The Third Wave. The figure above shows that changes to the proportion of the world’s countries that are democracies occurs in spurts. Confirming Huntington’s three waves of democratization, spurts occurred from the  1890s up to 1920, from 1935 to 1945, and from 1975 up to today. There are also reverse waves — from 1920 to 1935 and from 1945 to about 1970. Huntington demonstrated the waves empirically, and provided a number of explanations for why they occur. He did not ...

Roots of conflict : Don't blame environmental decay for the next war

Posted by Nils Petter Gleditsch & Henrik Urdal on Monday, 22 November 2004

When Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan known for her work in human rights and environmental conservation, including efforts to fight deforestation, won the Nobel Peace Prize last month, many took note that the Nobel Committee had evidently expanded its notion of “peace.” “Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment,” it proclaimed, seeming to embrace an extended concept of peace as “human security.” More probably, the committee intended to highlight scarcity of renewable natural resources as an important cause of war. Their statement, it is true, didn’t deal with that issue directly, but Maathai herself said that ...