A New Working Paper on ACLED Reporting Sources

The growth of online media and easily accessible information has enabled conflict data projects to provide a granular and detailed picture of conflict dynamics with geographically and temporally discrete events (Gleditsch et al., 2013). However, reliance on secondary sources means that datasets may be vulnerable to the biases of those sources. Previous studies on the use of media…

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…

Factionalism and Violence within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front

Tensions within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) have increased ahead of the party Congress in December. There is an expectation that the Congress will address the question of succession, an issue that has divided the party into two camps: one backing the ascension of Vice-President Joice Mujuru and the other backing the President’s…

Education and Political Conflict Part 2: Non-State Actor Strategies – A Focus on Boko Haram & Al Shabaab Conflict Dynamics

In February 2012, Boko Haram members burned down three schools in the town of Maiduguri in north-eastern Nigeria. The group claimed that the attack was provoked by indiscriminate student arrests in Islamic schools by state forces (IRIN, 4 October 2013). In this instance, schools became sites of retaliation against government actions perceived as repressive by…

Education and Political Conflict Part 1

Following the announcement on the 16th October that the Nigerian government had negotiated the release of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok in Nigeria, the global trend of deliberate and recurrent attacks against schools and education in conflict-affect areas has received renewed attention. In Nigeria from 2012 – 2014, the ACLED dataset recorded an average…

The Changing Actors of Political Violence in Zimbabwe

Since the upheaval of the 2008 Zimbabwean presidential elections in which much of the political violence and intimidation recorded was attributed to the Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the level of political violence in Zimbabwe and the composition of its perpetrators  has changed dramatically. Aggregate levels of political violence have decreased dramatically since 2008. Figure 1 shows that…

A comparison of violence against civilians between US-backed African regimes and Africa’s ‘pariah states’

The three day US Africa Leaders Summit, which ended last week, has faced criticism for leaving the issue of human rights largely off the agenda (McGreal, 13 August 2014; Friedman, 7 August 2014). Obama himself acknowledged that some keys allies in Africa “are not performing optimally when it comes to all the various categories of human…

State Fragility

After a cursory look at the Fund for Peace’s (hereafter FFP) 2014 fragile state rankings, @ACLEDInfo mentioned on twitter that the metrics were ‘questionable’. We suggested index’s rankings of fragility bear little relationship to reality. A polite reply from the FFP opened the space for more discussion. Since a complete conversation is not ‘tweetable’, this…