ACLED Working Papers explore different methodological and thematic issues highlighted by the data collection project, including the role of distinct actors, actor types and sources in coding.
This article presents a ‘violence management’ framework through which to understand why, where, and when states employ pro-government militias (PGMs). Regimes in developing states engage in practices of ‘violence management’ that involve both offensive and defensive strategies to contain, repress and curtail various domestic threats. The most ‘effective’ strategy for a leader to ensure his/her survival is to establish counterbalancing forces, implement PGMs, and initiate state repression strategies. These different organizations and responses are specifically designed to deal with various types and scales of threat. A new pro-government militia dataset – PGM-Set – is introduced.
Rates of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Africa have been increasing. As investors place the most weight on investing in environments where stability is high and risk is minimal, states have an incentive to repress opponents and civilians to create an illusion of security and control. ‘Political stability’ can be measured as the likelihood that a government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means; minimizing the likelihood of destabilization may increase investor attention. Therefore, directly and indirectly, investment can incentivize the state to ‘perform’ security differently to secure economic flows. African states increasingly use violent repression to eradicate opponents to ‘secure’ spaces and ensure regime stability, in turn attracting investment. Citizens are targeted to ‘secure’ space and minimize future opposition and possible instability, ensuring future investment.
With a recent increase in foreign donor relationship, this paper analyses the effects of Chinese official finance on subsequent conflict rates within African states from the period 2000-2013. Findings suggest that due to the fungible nature of Chinese official finance, and the associated lack of accountability, political violence by the state to suppress domestic competition increases with receipt of Chinese official finance. This contrasts with ‘traditional’ official finance which typically incentivise insurgent rebellion. The paper demonstrates that the observed patterns of violence are not a function of the institutional or economic characteristics of the recipient state, instead highlighting how China’s non-discriminatory donor policy is transforming the conflict landscape.
Since 2000, the protection of civilians has become one of the main tasks of peacekeeping missions deployed in Africa. This working paper aims to assess peacekeeping forces’ efficacy in reducing violence against civilians (VAC). The research explores VAC in countries where peacekeepers are deployed by analysing the levels and share of anti-civilian violence over the time and following mandate adjustments, the actors involved in targeting of civilians (rebels and government forces), and the geographic diffusion patterns of VAC (at sub-national and regional scales). Appendices providing a list of acronyms and peacekeeping missions accompany the working paper.
One issue that can affect the collection of real-time data is that of reporting lags, by which information about a particular event is available several days, weeks, or even months after it originally occurred. This paper seeks to identify the factors that foster these reporting delays. It explores the nature of events subject to a reporting delay by investigating attributes such as their location, the actors involved, and the scale and types of sources which may be subject to delay.
The escalation of political violence since the demise of Ben Ali’s regime has drawn attention to the role of Islamist militias in Tunisia. This working paper investigates the evolution of the conflict cycle in Tunisia’s post-revolutionary period, highlighting how the decline of non-violent protesting activity coincided with militant Islamist groups increasingly engaging in organised violence. Using a political process approach, it analyses the mechanisms of demobilisation and radicalisation of collective actors and demonstrates that the adoption of violent tactics resulted from a competitive tactical differentiation between different groups in the Islamist camp.
This working paper identifies how patterns of collective action have transformed in the post-Arab Spring period in their form, intensity and emergence of key agents of change across Egypt and Libya. It explores the impact of key state policies on the behaviour of collective actors, providing a preliminary framework for understanding how non-violent anti-regime protests can escalate into more organised forms of violence. Analysing how elite-mass interactions have shifted from 2011-2015, it explores the spatial dynamics of collective action and demonstrates that changing power relations between the Muslim Brotherhood, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the executive have affected the geographical distribution of violence on a sub-national level in Egypt.
ACLED is produced using a wide range of sources including media, governmental agency and NGO publications. These sources also vary in editorial focus, ranging from local to international. This paper classifies sources by type and scale and determines whether these different classifications exhibit preferences in terms of event type, event location and country type. This paper also assesses the robustness of ACLED in light of previously identified issues in disaggregated event-based datasets. This paper demonstrates that the wide variety of sources utilised in producing ACLED ensure the dataset’s robustness, but that consistent review of previous time periods is necessary to ensure the data’s accuracy.
The escalation of violent conflict in Nigeria and Somalia in recent years and the intensification of overlapping crises in Mali in 2012 have drawn attention to the role of Islamist groups in violence across the African continent. This paper seeks to explore this phenomenon through data recorded and published through the Armed Conflict Location & Event Dataset (ACLED) from 1997 to December 2012.
The ACLED dataset includes actors listed as ‘unidentified armed groups’ when the identity of the group involved in the event is unknown or is not reported. Unidentified armed groups constitute a large share of violent actors in the dataset (11.8% of violent actors) and warrant greater attention in light of their significant presence. This working paper proceed s as follows: section 1 outlines how unidentified armed groups are defined and distinguished in the dataset; section 2 explores the level, nature and patterns of unidentified armed group activity across the dataset; and section 3 concludes by analysing three case study countries in more detail.
ACLED relies on a variety of sources to produce its dataset. These include news reports, NGO and governmental agency publications, security alerts and published texts or books. Sources also include international, regional and national content. The most common sources, patterns within and across international and national news sources, and countries with high and low numbers of discrete sources are detailed in this working paper.