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

Burden Sharing Governance

Burden Sharing Multi-level Governance: A Study of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

Written by Conor Seyle, Danielle A. Zach, Jens Vestergaard Madsen on May 26, 2013

The world confronts many threats with transnational dimensions that transcend the the capacity of states to address.

Read more
Business Participation in the Responsibility to Protect

Business Participation in the Responsibility to Protect

Written by Conor Seyle on April 26, 2013

Past research on business engagement with human rights, peace, and security has identified specific reasons why national and transnational companies may be interested in participating, as well as how they have contributed to protecting human rights

Read more

Governance, Democracy and Peace: How State Capacity and Regime Type Influence the Prospects for War and Peace

Written by Conor Seyle, David Cortright, Kristen Wall on April 26, 2013

This white paper offers a synthetic review of empirical evidence on the elements of state governance that affect interstate and intrastate armed conflict. In the first part of the paper we examine state capacity and institutional quality.

Read more
Criminal Court and Torture

Does the International Criminal Court Deter Torture?

Written by Eamon Aloyo, Yvonne M. Dutton, Lindsay Heger on March 8, 2013

Despite widespread commitment to the international human rights regime, human rights abuses persist and go unpunished.

Read more
Terrorism and Political Violence

Organizing for Resistance: How Group Structure Impacts the Character of Violence

Written by Danielle Jung, Wendy H. Wong, Lindsay Heger on November 15, 2012

How does the way in which a group organizes change the lethality of the group's attacks? In this article, we argue that groups organized vertically as hierarchies are likely to conduct more lethal attacks.

Read more
Failures in Somalia

Twenty Years of Collapse and Counting: The Cost of Failure in Somalia

Written by John Norris, Bronwyn Bruton on September 19, 2011

This paper explores the staggeringly high costs of the crises response rather than the crises prevention approach by looking at the case of Somalia.

Read more
Maritime Piracy

Maritime Piracy

Written by Robert Haywood, Roberta Spivak on August 19, 2011

Maritime Piracy is now a pressing global issue, and this work seeks to provide a concise and informative introduction to the area.

Read more

Pages