CSCW: Governance and Peace (2003-2007)

This working group was active from 2003 to 2006. This page is kept for historic reasons.

Led by Kaare Strøm

Governance structures play a particularly significant role in determining the outbreak of armed conflict and civil war. Coherent democracies and harshly authoritarian states have few civil wars, and intermediate regimes (semi-democracies) are the most conflict-prone. Political change is also associated with armed violence, regardless as to whether that change is toward greater democracy or greater autocracy (Hegre et al., 2001). Gates et al. (2001) examine political stability and conclude that semi-democracies exhibiting inconsistent institutions, are less stable than institutionally consistent autocracies and democracies.

The main focus of the Governance and Peace Working Group will be to explore the mechanisms through which democratic institutions engender peace. More specifically we intend to look at the different pathways of political transformation. Are certain institutional structures more conducive to peaceful democratisation than others? And what institutional arrangements are more prone to groups taking up arms in opposition to the state? To address these questions, we will draw on an extensive body of research, ranging from the analysis of rebellion and revolt to studies of democratisation and political stability. Methodologically, game theoretic and quantitative statistical analysis will be employed.

We intend to focus on five main research questions:

  • How do certain political institutions serve to mitigate the likelihood of civil war? More specifically how do democratic institutions prevent violent conflict?
  • Which institutions make a political system more vulnerable to groups taking up arms in opposition to the state?
  • Are specific institutional arrangements (e.g. parliamentary vs. presidential systems, majoritarian-plurality vs. proportional electoral systems) more strongly associated with peaceful transition than other systems?
  • What factors are most salient in accounting for civil war and its perpetuation? How do these factors interact?
  • What is the essence of conflict suspension, resolution, and termination? How do the dynamics of conflict affect the prospects for peaceful settlement?


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