Protest, Service Delivery and Xenophobic Violence in South Africa

Conflict levels fell dramatically in May 2015 after South Africa suffered a wave of xenophobic and anti-foreigner violence in April. The scale of the violence surpassed the anti-foreigner riots that hit Soweto in January 2015 after an alleged robber was shot by a Somali shopkeeper, prompting South African residents to loot foreign-owned shops. The violence…

The Strategic Use of Unidentified Armed Groups In Conflict Zones

Unidentified armed groups (UAGs) constitute a large share of violent actors in the ACLED dataset; approximately 15% of organized, armed conflict carried out by violent actors (e.g., government forces, rebels, political militias, communal militias, external forces) are at the hands of UAGs.  There are many reasons why a group may be ‘unidentified’: the first is…

The Targeting of Children in Conflict Zones, Part 2: Increased Lethality and Contexts

Children in conflict zones are subject to high rates of violence (killing, or severely harming), forcible inscription and negative developmental challenges. Violence against children is often used by armed groups to instill terror in populations, and to reaffirm brutality and garner notoriety. Aggregated data from a search for conflict events (specifically, violence against civilians) within…

Rape as a Weapon of Political Violence, Part 2: Where, When, and by Whom is This Tactic Used?

Sexual violence (e.g. rape) is a conscious strategy frequently employed by armed groups to torture and humiliate opponents, terrify individuals, destroy societies though inciting flight from a territory, and to reaffirm aggression and brutality, specifically through an expression of domination (Bastick et al., 2007; UN, 2015). In order to torture opponents, sexual violence can be…

Rape as a Weapon of Political Violence, Part 1: Trends Across Africa

Sexual violence as a weapon of political conflict is a serious, present-day atrocity affecting millions of people (primarily women and girls)[1] with grave health implications, both physical and psychological (Bastick, Grimm, and Kunz, 2007; UN, 2015). It is frequently a conscious strategy employed by armed groups to torture and humiliate opponents; terrify individuals and destroy…

Terrorism: A review of differences in definition

The existence of multiple, contrasting and even contradictory definitions and conceptualisations of terrorism in policy, legal frameworks and academic research is well-documented. The plethora of competing legal definitions has been likened to the Bermuda Triangle (Dedeoglu, 2003), and attempts to develop consensus around a single one, to ‘the quest for the Holy Grail’ (Levitt, 1986).…

Intra-Tuareg Militant Violence and Islamist Insurgency – The Overlapping Crises of the Conflict in Mali

Following the short but deadly burst of fighting in May, Mali has generally seen a decreasing trend in overall events over the past few months (which follows a broader trend in decreasing violence since this time last year), with a spike in fatalities during July (see Figure 1). However, although the number of violent events…

Continued Conflict and Violence in South Sudan

With peace talks between president Salva Kiir and SPLA/M-In Opposition leader and former vice-president Riek Machar on hiatus, conflict in South Sudan continues.  Since the ceasefire agreement between the two in May, the number of conflict events involving the government and the SPLA/M-IO has not significantly decreased.  Though in recent months, the frequency of conflict…

Conflict in South Sudan: The Rising Role of Political and Ethnic Militias

The civil war in South Sudan continues.  The sixth round of peace talks between president Salva Kiir and SPLA/M-In Opposition leader and former vice-president Riek Machar was delayed last week due to agenda disagreements.[1]  Over the weekend, fighting broke out yet again in Upper Nile state, near the town of Renk, which sits near several oil…

A Breakdown of Libya’s Warring Militia Groups

The complex political make-up of Libya’s fractured fighting groups has seen indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas as rival political and communal militias dominate the conflict landscape (see Figure 1).  According to an estimate by UNSMIL, since the fighting began in May 2014, at least 100,000 Libyans have been internally displaced (UNSMIL, 2014: 7). Fighting in Benghazi…