Recent Trends in Civil War Dynamics
Political Forecasting, Political Conflict

Reassessing Rebellion

Author(s): Jay Benson, Eric Keels, Joshua Lambert
Date: March 15, 2019
Publication Type: Research Report
Research Topics: Political Forecasting, Political Conflict

Overview:

Though historically the number of armed conflicts has been declining, there has been a recent surge in ongoing civil wars. Intrastate armed conflicts therefore represent a persistent and dangerous threat to global stability. Breaking from past studies, our report examines recent trends in civil war dynamics. Leveraging publicly available dataset, this report provides a comprehensive look at how rebel group strategies have shifted in the 21st century. Findings include detailed analyses on recent trends in rebel group structure, the location of armed violence, as well as rebel tactics. Our report also provides unique policy suggestions to deal with these evolving risks.

Key Findings:

  • Though insurgency (i.e. asymmetric warfare) remains the modal form of war, growing global instability creates opportunities for insurgents to pursue more conventional (and deadly) campaigns.
     
  • Civilian victimization may be more common during periods of greater instability. Actions pursued by the international community to manage conflicts (such as military interventions) may inadvertently increase the number of civilians targeted by rebel groups.
     
  • Contrary to popular perceptions, most civil war violence (particularly battles between rebels and the government) is moving further away from major cities.
     
  • Rebel organizations are becoming more decentralized and more religious. This trend presents unique challenges to the international community’s efforts to generate diplomatic solutions to ongoing armed conflicts.

Related Publications

Ecology and Evolution

Causality and the Levels of Selection

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp on March 30, 2016

When is it sensible to say that group selection has shaped organismal design? This question has prompted many replies but few credible solutions. This article provides new work that exposes the causal relationships between phenotypes and fitness.

Read more
Democracies and coups

Why Democratization Does Not Solve the Coup Problem

Written by Curtis Bell, One Earth Future on March 7, 2016

Since the end of the Cold War, the military coup d’état has become the greatest threat to transitional democracies around the world.

Read more
Democracy and Coup d’État

Coup d’État and Democracy

Written by Curtis Bell on February 19, 2016

This article explains coup activity in democracies by adapting insights from the literature on commitment problems and framing coup around the threats leaders and potential coup plotters pose to each other.

Read more
Research Duetting as a Collective Behavior

Duetting as a Collective Behavior

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp on February 5, 2016

Mated birds of many species vocalize together, producing duets. Duetting behavior occurs at two levels of organization: the individual level and the pair level.

Read more
Coups d'Etat and Civil War

When and Why Coups Occur During Civil War

Written by Curtis Bell on January 15, 2016

Coups d’état are frequently both causes and consequences of larger-scale civil wars and rebellions.

Read more
Empirical Trends in Peace

The Century of Peace? Empirical Trends in Peace and Conflict

Written by One Earth Future on November 2, 2015

Is a world without war possible in the 21st century?Trends in armed conflict and a developing body of social scientific research suggest that this idea is plausible.Based on a discussion of high-level experts held in 2014, this report reviews the

Read more
Causes and Outcomes of Coup during Civil War

The Causes and Outcomes of Coup during Civil War

Written by Curtis Bell, Jun Koga Sudduth on October 1, 2015

Though approximately one in four coup attempts takes place during an ongoing civil war, scholars have not yet analyzed how the incidence of civil war affects coup attempts and outcomes.

Read more
Rebels and Service Provision

Negotiating With Rebels: The Effect of Rebel Service Provision on Conflict Negotiations

Written by Danielle F. Jung, Lindsay Heger on September 29, 2015

When rebels provide social services, do they have more leverage negotiating the terms of a peace deal? The literature suggests service-providing groups may, on average, have a wider base of support and a more centralized organizational structure.

Read more

Pages