Civilian targeting in African conflicts - a poor actor's game that spreads through space

Piotr Lis, Michael Spagat, Uih Ran Lee

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Abstract

Armed conflict actors frequently target civilian populations. Thus, an improved understanding of such behaviour could pave the way to reducing it. We use the Civilian Targeting Index (CTI) and a broad array of geo-referenced data to investigate the spatio-temporal and economic dynamics of civilian targeting by conflict actors in Africa. Two main insights are generated. First, the civilian targeting behaviour of African non-state conflict actors is strongly influenced by the behaviour of other proximate actors. In particular, non-state actors tend to increase their civilian targeting after nearby non-state actors have done so. Possible mechanisms to explain such spatial spillovers include emulation and retaliation. Second, a negative relationship between economic activity and civilian targeting exists and applies to both state and non-state actors. In addition, CTIs of non-state actors tend to increase with population density, the geographical spread of their conflict activity and conflict duration. State actors have higher average CTI's than non-state actors do but the gap between the two actor types tends to close during long-duration conflicts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Volume(In-Press)
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Sep 2020

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  • Activities

    • 3 Participation in conference

    Facets of Political Violence and Peacebuilding

    Piotr Lis (Speaker)
    3 May 20194 May 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF DEMOCRACY AND DICTATORSHIP

    Piotr Lis (Speaker), Michael Spagat (Contributor), Uih Ran Lee (Participant)
    28 Feb 20192 Mar 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

    Annual International Conference on Economics and Security

    Piotr Lis (Speaker)
    22 Jun 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

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