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.
Pro-government militias are political, armed organizations that assist regime and state elites through illicit violence. This article considers how and where to situate militias within larger frameworks of political violence and its emerging contexts. Individual groups, events and fatalities perpetrated by progovernment militias (PGM) have increased in recent years, in line with domestic political competition and regime fragmentation across developing states. Through the use of a new PGM dataset that collects discrete events perpetrated by groups across Africa from 1997-2016, two conclusions are reached. PGM groups are more active outside of civil war periods than within, and their actions and numbers have increased as more countries transition to democracy. Further, activity by PGMs is not well explained by government attempts to delegate violence for reputational reasons or low capacity. Political fragmentation at the national level and diffuse opposition threats better account for the spatial and temporal patterns of PGM activity.
China’s official finance to Africa is increasing. It is intentionally distinct from more traditional donors due to its ‘non-interference policy’, where China avoids imposing political views, ideals, or principles in recipient countries. What consequence does this policy have on the security of states and citizens? Chinese finance correlates with increased rates of state-based violence, specifically repression and civilian targeting. This co-occurrence is due to unconditional aid presenting fewer obstacles and reprisals for regimes seeking to reinforce and consolidate their power. The relationship is not directly based on ‘paying for’ repression, but Sino-African political relationships tolerate state leaders who use repression as a means to quell competition. In contrast, state conflict does not respond to aid changes from traditional donors. These effects are similar across multiple regime types, states with and without primary resources, and histories of conflict and repression
Rates of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Africa are increasing, yet little is known about how this will affect the political environment. One possibility, explored here, is that increasing levels of FDI within developing states will incentivize state conflict activity. Using an instrumental strategy, we show that in states with a low regard for civil liberties, or with unhealthy economies (i.e. states with a cash deficit), increased access to investment is associated with a higher number of conflict actions by the state. We argue that access to investment can push regimes into using violent strategies to secure their internal environment and to ensure their survival, specifically in their engaging in conflict against opposition and armed combatants. This underscores the need for extensive monitoring of state behavior following the receipt of investment, similar to the oversight of conditional aid.
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.