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Title [sv]
Vem, var och varför: Att förstå inbördeskrig på lokal nivå
Title [en]
Who, Where and Why: Understanding Microfoundations of Civil War
Abstract [en]
Why do some violent conflicts evolve into devastating events with large civilian death tolls, whereas others are less severe and terminate more swiftly? The quantitative research has approached this question with empirical tests on national level, focusing on state level attributes. However, civil wars are local events, and they evolve in interaction between warring actors.

This project advances this literature through a disaggregated analysis of new and unique micro-level data on the conflict behaviour of warring actors and their geographical location. Three puzzles are examined: (1) why rebel groups deliberately kill civilians; (2) why rebel groups engage in battle with other rebel groups; and (3) why some rebel groups are offered peaceful bargains by the government to end their fighting. Through disaggregation, we make the actors and their interaction the focal point of our analysis, and hence advance our understanding of local determinants of conflict and the relationship between different types of violence.

We will rely on Uppsala Conflict Data Project’s new geo-referenced conflict events data, which are unique in their spatial and temporal coverage, and in their level of disaggregation by conflict actor. This will allow us for the first time to answer pertinent questions regarding who fights in civil war and where the fighting takes place, and provide more refined answers to the question of why some conflicts become violent and intractable.
Publications (5 of 5) Show all publications
Fjelde, H. & Østby, G. (2014). Socioeconomic Inequality and Communal Conflict: A Disaggregated Analysis of Sub-Saharan Africa, 1990-2008. International Interactions, 40(5), 737-762
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Socioeconomic Inequality and Communal Conflict: A Disaggregated Analysis of Sub-Saharan Africa, 1990-2008
2014 (English)In: International Interactions, ISSN 0305-0629, E-ISSN 1547-7444, Vol. 40, no 5, p. 737-762Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the role of economic inequality in influencing the risk of armed conflict between communal groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. We argue that socioeconomic inequality can generate intergroup grievances, which, due to the exclusionary legitimacy of the African state and elite incentives to engage in competitive mobilization of communal groups, precipitate violent communal conflict. To examine this argument, we rely on a series of household surveys to construct subnational inequality measures. For each region, we calculate measures of inequality in terms of household welfare and education between individuals (vertical inequality) and between ethnic groups (horizontal inequality). Combining the inequality data with new georeferenced data on communal conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 1990-2008, we find that regions with strong socioeconomic inequalities-both vertical and horizontal-are significantly more exposed to violent communal conflicts. More specifically, regions in which the largest ethnic group is severely disadvantaged compared to other groups are particularly prone to experience communal conflict.

communal conflict, communal violence, Africa, horizontal inequality, vertical inequality
National Category
Other Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-237921 (URN)10.1080/03050629.2014.917373 (DOI)000343984900005 ()
Available from: 2014-12-10 Created: 2014-12-08 Last updated: 2020-06-26
Fjelde, H. & Hultman, L. (2014). Weakening the Enemy: A Disaggregated Study of Violence against Civilians in Africa. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58(7), 1230-1257
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Weakening the Enemy: A Disaggregated Study of Violence against Civilians in Africa
2014 (English)In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, ISSN 0022-0027, E-ISSN 1552-8766, Vol. 58, no 7, p. 1230-1257Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While case-based narratives from civil wars often stress the ethnic dimension of civilian atrocities, cross-national studies have found limited evidence in support of such contentions. Addressing this debate, we argue that warring actors often use ethnic affiliation to identify groups of suspected enemy supporters when individual wartime affiliations are not known. Since warring actors depend on their civilian constituencies for support, collective targeting of the enemy's co-ethnics becomes a strategy for weakening the enemy's capacity. Armed actors are thus more likely to engage in civilian abuse in areas where the enemy's ethnic constituency resides. To examine this argument, we combine new georeferenced event data on violence against civilians in African conflicts, 1989-2009, with spatial data on the location of the warring actors' ethnic constituencies. The analysis shows that the number of civilians killed by both governments and rebel groups is higher in areas inhabited by the enemy's ethnic constituency.

civil war, violence against civilians, ethnic violence, ethnicity, spatial disaggregation
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-235624 (URN)10.1177/0022002713492648 (DOI)000342576900004 ()
Available from: 2014-11-11 Created: 2014-11-06 Last updated: 2020-06-26Bibliographically approved
Hultman, L. (2012). Attacks on Civilians in Civil War: Targeting the Achilles Heel of Democratic Governments. International Interactions, 38(2), 164-181
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Attacks on Civilians in Civil War: Targeting the Achilles Heel of Democratic Governments
2012 (English)In: International Interactions, ISSN 0305-0629, E-ISSN 1547-7444, Vol. 38, no 2, p. 164-181Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous research has indicated that democracy decreases the risk of armed conflict, while increasing the likelihood of terrorist attacks, but we know little about the effect of democracy on violence against civilians in ongoing civil conflicts. This study seeks to fill this empirical gap in the research on democracy and political violence, by examining all rebel groups involved in an armed conflict 1989-2004. Using different measures of democracy, the results demonstrate that rebels target more civilians when facing a democratic (or semi-democratic) government. Democracies are perceived as particularly vulnerable to attacks on the population, since civilians can hold the government accountable for failures to provide security, and this provides incentives for rebels to target civilians. At the same time, the openness of democratic societies provides opportunities for carrying out violent attacks. Thus, the strength of democracy-its accountability and openness-can become an Achilles heel during an internal armed conflict.

civil war, democracy, violence against civilians
National Category
Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-174612 (URN)10.1080/03050629.2012.657602 (DOI)000302788400002 ()
Available from: 2012-05-23 Created: 2012-05-22 Last updated: 2020-06-26Bibliographically approved
Hultman, L. (2012). Military Offensives in Afghanistan: A Double-Edged Sword. International Area Studies Review, 15(3), 230-248
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Military Offensives in Afghanistan: A Double-Edged Sword
2012 (English)In: International Area Studies Review, ISSN 2233-8659, Vol. 15, no 3, p. 230-248Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The current counterinsurgency operation in Afghanistan has failed to defeat the insurgency and levels of violence have increased over time. Even though there are several potential factors explaining this development, it prompts the question of how effective the military offensives are at weakening the insurgents and their ability to carry out violent attacks. I propose that targeted killings of insurgents reduce their fighting capacity in the short term, which leads to fewer attacks against government targets as the insurgents shy away from costly combat. However, as a way of adapting to a temporary reduction in capacity, insurgents may instead increase their targeting of the civilian population with the purpose of undermining the legitimacy of the government and the international forces. This potential double effect of military offensives is examined using monthly data on violence in Afghanistan by each province, 2004–2009. The findings provide some support for the contention that killing insurgents can reduce their attacks against government targets, but at the same time risk leading to an increase in attacks against civilian targets. The use of force thus seems to be a double-edged sword in the struggle against the insurgents in the present war in Afghanistan.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Sage Publications, 2012
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-187367 (URN)10.1177/2233865912454248 (DOI)
Available from: 2012-12-05 Created: 2012-12-05 Last updated: 2020-06-26Bibliographically approved
Fjelde, H. & Nilsson, D. (2012). Rebels against Rebels: Explaining Violence between Rebel Groups. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 56(4), 604-628
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Rebels against Rebels: Explaining Violence between Rebel Groups
2012 (English)In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, ISSN 0022-0027, E-ISSN 1552-8766, Vol. 56, no 4, p. 604-628Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Rebel groups that confront the government frequently become engaged in fierce and violent struggles with other groups. Why does a rebel group who is already fighting with the government become engaged in yet another struggle, thereby sacrificing scarce resources in the fight against other rebel groups? This article addresses this puzzle by providing the first global study on the determinants of interrebel violence. The authors argue that this violence should be understood as a means to secure material resources and political leverage that can help the group prevail in the conflict with the government. The quantitative analysis builds on new data on armed conflict between nonstate actors, 1989-2007. The results show that interrebel conflict is more likely when the rebel group fights in an area with drug cultivation, when the group is in control of territory beyond government reach, when the group is either militarily strong or weak in relation to other rebels, and where state authority is weak.

civil war, interrebel violence, non-state conflict, rebel group
National Category
Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-179560 (URN)10.1177/0022002712439496 (DOI)000306557100002 ()
Available from: 2012-08-20 Created: 2012-08-20 Last updated: 2020-06-26Bibliographically approved
Principal InvestigatorNilsson, Desirée
Co-InvestigatorFjelde, Hanne
Co-InvestigatorHultman, Lisa
Coordinating organisation
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research
2010-01-01 - 2015-12-31
National Category
Political Science
DiVA, id: project:2011Project, id: 2009-01833

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