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.  …

The Targeting of Children in Conflict Zones, Part 1: General Trends

Violence against children is a conscious strategy employed by armed groups within conflict contexts. When children are targeted or killed, it is often in an attempt to instill terror in populations, or to reaffirm brutality and gain (global) notoriety, given that the targeting of children is meant to send a message to (adult) adversaries and/or the international community at-large.…

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.,…

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).…

Violence against Civilians and Al Shabaab: Tactics of Internal Security and Distabilisation

Conflict event levels and reported fatalities fell slightly in Somalia in January. While violence overall has witnessed a gradual decline since a peak in July 2013, this has been punctuated by upswings in violence, and a concomitant increase in reported fatalities, suggesting an intensification of violent conflict (see Figure 1).…

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).…

Resource-Related Conflict in Africa

Natural resource extraction by mining (including oil, diamonds, copper, and cobalt) has tremendous positive economic potential for states. However, these resources can also do more harm than good if used towards ulterior motives including corruption, the unequal distribution of wealth, and to fuel violence.…

Anti-Government Protests and Regime Breakdown: Conflict Dynamics in Transitional States

“Authoritarian regimes…breakdown in systematically different ways, and they also affect post-transition outcomes” Geddes (1999: 6) The recent civil disobedience activity in Burkina Faso to oust President Blaise Compaore, following an attempt to extend his 27-year long term (BBC, 30 October 2014) highlights the success of civil society movements in mobilising for regime change.…

Remote-Violence, Bombings and Conflict Part 3: Overall Trends in the Use of Improvised Explosive Devices

The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in conflict zones across has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years (Norton-Taylor, 3 July 2014). Conflict in Africa mirrors this global trend, as the number of discrete events involving IEDs grew from 9 reports in 2005 to 468 in 2013.…