Causes and Dynamics of Conflict Escalation: The Role of Environmental Change and Economic Development

Led by Wenche Iren Hauge

May 2000 – Dec 2003


This doctoral project analysed the role of renewable environmental resources and economic development in the causation and escalation of internal conflicts. Eight case studies were examined, including four low-income and four lower middle-income countries, all with high levels of soil erosion. Conflictual and peaceful countries were included, with the conflictual countries at different levels of conflict escalation. Various theories regarding the implications of environmental change and economic development for violent conflicts were examined, with the theories and models of Thomas Homer-Dixon and Günther Bächler playing a central role in the analysis. Since it was assumed that specific conflicts have a variety of causes, conflict determinants other than the purely environmental and economic were also discussed. Causes of conflict were analysed and discussed using David Dessler’s methodology, by which causes are categorized according to their roles as channels, targets, triggers and catalysts in an interactive system. The doctoral dissertation from the project was submitted to the University of Oslo in December 2002.

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