Category: Conflict Patterns

The Victims of War: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

In making the choice between pessimism and optimism, it may be a risky business to lean on everyday news. Let us rather have a look at figures that reveal more long-term tendencies.   Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of Our Nature, published in 2011, painted an optimistic picture of mankind emerging from its violent… Read more »

Trends in Armed Conflict, 1946–2014

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… Read more »

Suicide Bombing ≠ Religious Fervor

  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 –… Read more »

In Defence of the Reviled 20th century

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… Read more »

Attacks on Humanitarian Aid Workers: Five New Findings

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… Read more »

War is Development in Reverse

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… Read more »

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

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… Read more »

The “Resister’s Toolkit”

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… Read more »

The Reality of Firearms Trafficking

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… Read more »