Severe drought is associated with higher incidence of armed conflict among agriculture-dependent marginalized populations in the least developed states. By strengthening the political status and economic well-being of these groups, conflict risk can be reduced. This is a key finding of a study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) by a team of DPCR and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) researchers.
Noting that previous studies fail to properly capture the societal context in which such an event would plausibly occur, Nina von Uexkull, Mihai Croicu, Hanne Fjelde, and Halvard Buhaug developed a set of statistical models of climate-security connections that explicitly incorporate affected populations’ specific socioeconomic context. Focusing on Asia and Africa, the researchers utilized new data on armed conflicts since 1989 from the UCDP, ethnic settlement in the region, and high-resolution agricultural land use, and identified a vulnerability specifically to drought among certain populations. While the model reveals that drought-related conflict is limited under most circumstances, the findings indicate that among politically marginalized ethnicities subsisting in rural economies dominated by agriculture, a drought would increase the likelihood that ongoing violence is sustained. Bolstering key agriculturally dependent communities against climate catastrophes may thus help prevent future violent clashes – especially in areas already affected by conflict and instability. Beyond measures to make the agricultural sector more resilient to climatic extremes, this means strengthening the political status and economic well-being of the rural populations.
PNAS is among the top general science journals making this an important success and a further example of a long tradition of fruitful cooperation between DPCR and PRIO.
von Uexkull, Nina, Mihai Croicu, Hanne Fjelde, and Halvard Buhaug. 2016. ”Civil conflict sensitivity to growing-season drought.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, published online ahead of print. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1607542113. (open access).
On 7 October, Mathilda Lindgren successfully defended her thesis Peacemaking Up Close: Expanding Mediator Styles of International Mediators. Faculty opponent at the defense was Associate Professor Kyle Beardsley, Duke University. Professor Isak Svensson chaired the disputation.
A meeting with University of Tuebingen, Germany, a partner University within the international Matariki-network of Universities, was held on 4 October. Uppsala University and the Department is a coordinator for the Peace and Conflict group within the Matariki network. On the picture: professor Andreas Hasenclever from University of Tuebingen, flanked by Håvard Hegre, Karen Brounéus, Kristine Höglund and Isak Svensson, from the Department.
On 23 September, Nina von Uexkull successfully defended her thesis Climate, Conflict and Coping Capacity - The Impact of Climate Variability on Organized Violence. Faculty opponent at the defense was Professor Jack A. Goldstone, George Mason University. Professor Kristine Höglund chaired the disputation.
The research project "Resolving Jihadist Conflicts? Religion, Civil War, and Prospects for Peace" held its 1st International Working Group Conference in Uppsala 5-8 September. The conference gathered around 30 scholars and professionals from multiple disciplines to discuss the concept of 'jihadist conflict' and revise the analytical framework of the project. As a part of the conference, a public seminar, Resolving Jihadist Wars: Prospects and Challenges, was organized on Tuesday 6 September together with the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA). Prof. Monica Toft (University of Oxford) delivered the keynote address before a panel discussion also including project leader Prof. Isak Svensson (Uppsala University), Prof. I William Zartman (Johns Hopkins University), Prof. Mark Juergensmeyer (University of California Santa Barbara), Joel Ahlberg (FBA), and Dr. Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs (FBA) as the moderator. Drawing a large audience, the panel (pictured above) debated a number of key questions related to the conditions under which jihadist armed conflicts can be resolved.
On 10 September, Florian Krampe successfully defended his thesis Building Sustainable Peace - Understanding the Linkages between Social, Political, and Ecological Processes in Post-War Countries. Faculty opponent at the defense was Associate Professor Larry Swatuk, University of Waterloo. Associate Professor Magnus Öberg chaired the disputation.
The new Master students (class of 2016-2018)
Welcome to the new academic year! The fall semester has just begun and the new Master students will be studying a course on the Causes of Armed Conflict over the next ten weeks. Our Master program in Peace and Conflict Studies has a strong international profile and attracts students from all around the world. Through elective courses, the program provides an opportunity to obtain an individual profile by specializing in areas such as conflict resolution or security challenges. The program also prepares students for a future career as practitioners. Many of our second-year students are now doing internships with various international organizations, government agencies, NGOs, think tanks, and other relevant employers.
Our Bachelor program in Peace and Development is one of the most popular programs at Uppsala University and the admission is highly competitive. The new students begin the program by taking the A-course in Peace and Conflict Studies together with 55 other Swedish and international students. The third-year program students are now taking a course in methods to prepare them for their Bachelor theses later this semester.
We currently have a total of 277 students enrolled in our undergraduate and master courses.The Department welcomes all new and old students to what we hope will be a challenging and exciting academic year!
On September 1, the Department's Research School for International Water Cooperation hosted an event at the World Water Week. Prof. Ashok Swain together with Charlotte Grech-Madin, Kyungmee Kim, Stefan Döring, and Yumiko Yasuda presented ongoing research projects. The work was later discussed with scholars and international policy experts. The Research School is part of the ICWC, an independent research institute hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and delivered in partnership with the Swedish Government and SIWI, under the auspices of UNESCO.
On August 30, Associate Professor Karen Brounéus held a keynote lecture at Rosario University, Bogotá, Colombia, entitled ”The Complexities of Truth Telling for Trust, Reintegration and Peace: Promises and Pitfalls of TRC processes”. After more than 50 years of armed conflict, Colombia has entered a new historical phase with the recent signing of a ceasefire agreement between the government and the FARC guerilla. JANUS – the new Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Conflict and Peace — at Rosario brings together scholars from across the University with the aim to assist the peace process ahead.
Transboundary Water Management and the Climate Change Debate, the book co-authored by Professor Ashok Swain has been selected as the International Water Resources Book of the Year 2015. After careful scrutiny of more than 100 books about international hydrology and water resources, Hydrology.nl has declared the book as the winner during the World Water Week in Stockholm. This jointly authored book is a product of collaboration with colleagues at SIWI and Gothenburg University within the institutional framework of International Center for Water Cooperation.
On 6 July Professor Peter Wallensteen moderated a panel debate titled “Kärnvapennedrustning genom avtal – problem och möjlgiheter” (Nuclear disarmament through agreements – problems and possibilities). The panel debate was held in Visby as part of the annual Almedalsveckan. For more information about the seminar, see the seminar webpage.
On 4 July Professor Isak Svensson and Assistant Professor Joakim Kreutz, both members of the East Asian Peace Program’s core group, participated in a panel debate titled “Är freden i Östasien hotad?” (Is the peace in East Asia threatened?). Advisory Board Member Börje Ljunggren also participated in the panel. The debate was moderated by Ulf Mårtensson. The panel debate was held in Visby as part of the annual Almedalsveckan. For more information about the seminar, see the seminar webpage. For more information about the East Asian Peace Program, see the program website.
Professor Peter Wallensteen moderated a panel debate, also on 4 July, titled "Vad hände inom global säkerhetspolitik under året som gick?" (What happened within global security politics during the past year?). For more information about the seminar, see the seminar webpage.
The first Advisory board meeting of the Women, war trauma and peace building project is taking place on June 30-July 1 at the Department. The aim of the project is to study the complex and possibly gendered links between war trauma, psychological health and attitudes towards peace, to better understand the challenges women and men face in the aftermath of war. The first country of study will be Sri Lanka, from where project leader Karen Brounéus and co-investigator Erika Forsberg recently returned from a planning visit with research partners at the University of Colombo. The Advisory board consists of Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (South Africa), Dr Emma Fulu (Australia), Dr Henrik Urdal (Norway) and our own Professor Peter Wallensteen. Also in the picture research assistant Simon Pierre Boulanger Martel and Karin Dyrstad (Norway) with whom the project team collaborates.
The Swedish TV journalists Thomas Heldmark and Rolf Wrangnert have produced a film for Uppsala University about the East Asian Peace. It seeks to explain how a whole region with more than 30 per cent of mankind, could make a transition from widespread warfare to what some call a "surprising peace". The film features conflicting views as to how deep or sustainable the regional peace has become. See the film here or find it on YouTube! There is also a Chinese version of this film.
New data from the UCDP and studies from researchers within the “Resolving Jihadist Conflicts?” program is highlighted by Swedish media. The data show that more than half of the total amount of people killed in battle-related violence in 2015 were killed in armed conflict associated with jihadism. The data also show that the upward trend in fatalities in organized violence was broken in 2015. For more information, see the press release (in Swedish).
News article in English
“The new basis for war: Jihadism”, Dagens Nyheter, 2016-06-14
News articles in Swedish
“Dödstalen i krigen sjunker igen”, Dagens Nyheter, 2016-06-14
“Jihadismen är grunden för vår tids krig”, Dagens Nyheter, 2016-06-14
”Hälften av världens krigsoffer dör i krig med jihadistiska kopplingar”, Svenska Dagbladet, 2016-06-14
”Färre dör i konflikter”, Uppsala Nya Tidning, 2016-06-14
On 3 June, a graduation ceremony was held for the students that concluded their Master Programme in Peace and Conflict Studies. The event was held in Uppsala domkyrka in the presence of their friends and families. On the occasion, Kate Lonergan was awarded the Mats Hammarström Prize for Outstanding Student Essay in Peace and Conflict Studies for her thesis entitled "Atrocity Prevention through Reconciliation? Testing the Impact of Interpersonal Reconiciliation in Sri Lanka". The committee's motivation was to award Kate the prize "For an original and ambitious essay which marries two important research fields with a mixed methods design, employing both a randomized field experiment and purposive interviews". The department congratulates her and the rest of the students for their excellent achievements during the programme.
On 3 June Ilmari Käihkö successfully defended his thesis Bush Generals and Small Boy Battalions - Military Cohesion in Liberia and Beyond. Faculty opponent at the defense was Professor Koen Vlassenroot (Ghent University). Professor Kristine Höglund chaired the disputation.
The Department congratulates Doctor Colin Walch and Doctor Lisa Karlborg who both were conferred as Ph.D. at the University's Spring Conferment Ceremony, "Vårpromotionen", 27 May, 2016. Lisa Karlborg defended her dissertation: "Enforcing Legitimacy - Perspectives on the Relationship between Intervening Armed Forces and the Local Population in Afghanistan." on 12 December 2015, in Auditoriet, Museum Gustavianum. The opponent was Professor Robert Egnell, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership, Swedish Defence University. Colin Walch defended his dissertation: "Conflict in the Eye of the Storm - Micro-dynamics of Natural Disasters, Cooperation and Armed Conflict." on 20 February this year, in Auditoriet, Museum Gustavianum. The opponent was Professor Richard Matthew, University of California Irvineö.
The 2016 Annual Seminar of the Uppsala Rotary Peace Center, hosted by the Department, was held in Uppsala on 7 May. The Rotary Peace Fellows from Class XIII presented their research and shared experiences of peace work from around the world. In addition conference participants got the opportunity to hear from our keynote speaker Martin Schibbye. The seminar was followed by a dinner arranged by the Host Area Coordinator of the Rotary Peace Center Magnus Elfwendahl. For more information about the Uppsala Rotary Peace Center, visit the Center’s webpage or contact the center’s staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DPCR Alumni Association held its second Alumni Talks on 28 April, this year with the theme “Democracy from Below or Above? Prospects and Challenges for Peace”. The two main speakers were Professor Kristine Höglund and Professor Isak Svensson, who both took up the positions as Professors at the Department last year. Isak Svensson's research focuses on international mediation in civil wars, religious aspects of conflict resolution processes, and dynamics of strategic nonviolent conflicts. Kristine Höglund's areas of expertise are peace processes and peacebuilding, electoral violence, and transitional justice. The talk was moderated by Professor Peter Wallensteen. An informal reception was held afterwards.
The project, directed by Håvard Hegre and involving Hanne Fjelde, Lisa Hultman, Desiree Nilsson, as well as an international team of researchers, will develop, test, and iteratively improve a pilot Violence Early-Warning System (ViEWS) that is rigorous, data-based, and publicly available to researchers and the international community. The ultimate goal is to build an early-warning system of sufficient quality and transparency to enable the international community to effectively assist conflict-affected populations.
Developing ViEWS is challenging, but feasible. The conflict research community has laid the ground for such a system through careful isolation of theoretically manageable sub-components of complex phenomena, and concomitant systematic, disaggregated data collection efforts. A major innovation in the project is to integrate these isolated research programs into a theoretically and methodologically consistent forecasting system, guided by continuous out-of-sample evaluation. This integration effort will not only allow an early-warning system of unprecedented scope and performance, but also build theoretically informative bridges between numerous compartmentalized conflict research programs.
ViEWS will provide early warnings for four forms of political violence: armed conflict involving states and rebel groups, armed conflict between non-state actors, violence against civilians, and forced population displacement, and apply these to specific actors, sub-national geographical units, and countries. The system will leverage the data resources of the UCDP and other data sources developed by the Department and the project’s international partners.
For information on Hegre's earlier work on conflict forecasting, see Håvard Hegre´s blog.
The Department congratulates Professor Peter Wallensteen, who received the ISA Peace Studies Section’s “Distinguished Scholar Award”. The award ceremony was held on 16 March, at the Annual ISA Conference, this year in Atlanta, USA. The Chair of the ISA Peace Section, Landon Hancock, Associate Professor, Center for Applied Conflict Management, Department of Political Science, Kent State University, led the event. He commented on Wallensteen’s award by stating “In giving you this award we would like to pay tribute to your many years of work in the field of peace and conflict studies and to your many contributions to theory, research and practice.” He also said that Peace Studies is now the third largest among ISA’s many sections, with 875 members.
The other laureates were Galia Golan, Professor Emerita from Hebrew University now at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, and Professor Nils Petter Gleditsch from Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) and former editor of Journal of Peace Research. The three participated in a two-hour long conversation with the audience on peace research and its contemporary challenges.
Isak Svensson, professor at the department, and Ron E Hessner, have recently published the four-volume set International Relations and Religion (2016, SAGE Library of Interantional Relations), consisting of: Vol I: Religion and International Relations, Vol II: Religion and War, Vol III: Religion and Peace, and Vol IV: Religion, IR and Methodologies.
The study of religion and international relations has been gathering pace over the past few decades, and has intensified since the start of the new millennium, when the discipline experienced a sudden surge of interest attributable to world events, starting with the Iranian Revolution and culminating with U.S. incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq.
This four-volume set organizes and contextualizes this burgeoning literature and its contribution to the study of international theory, focusing in particular on its influence in the subfield of war and peace studies.
The four volumes are arranged thematically, including papers which offer a range of answers to key questions such as:
For more information, see also the new project Resolving Jihadist Conflict?
For the fifth season, the Regina Theatre has pursued discussions on the topics of peace and justice under the heading of 'Philosophy Tea'. Professor Peter Wallensteen has been involved from the Department. The discussions in February 2016 has focused on issues related to Africa. It coincides with the Black History Month in the US. The session on February 22 dealt with William Wilberforce and the abolition of slave trade and slavery. Wallensteen discussed with foreign lecturer Daniel Ogden (to the left in the picture).
On 20 February Colin Walch successfully defended his thesis Conflict in the Eye of the Storm - Micro-dynamics of Natural Disasters, Cooperation and Armed Conflict. Faculty opponent at the defense was Professor Richard Matthew, University of California Irvine. Professor Kristine Höglund chaired the disputation.
The Department is welcoming Professor Kevin Clements, director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Otago University, New Zealand, as part of the institutional collaboration between University of Otago and Uppsala University, and the East Asian Peace program.
In order to create more workspace for students and employees within Campus Gamla Torget, a large construction/relocation project has been ongoing for several years. Within one year, an estimated 950 study places will be available within Campus Gamla Torget.
As the number of students and employees has increased over the years, the goal is to create more study places, group rooms and lounge areas for students. New teaching facilities are being built in “Badhuset”, including a new lecture hall. In order to create more space, the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library has moved to Slottsgränd 3, near Carolina Rediviva.
The ongoing construction work has resulted in a temporary shortage of teaching facilities and study places. The ongoing renovation of the University Main Building has also contributed to this. We are sorry for the inconvenience this is causing. However, the work is progressing and already in April Campus Gamla Torget will gain access to two floors in “gamla Skrapan” at Trädgårdsgatan 7E. In addition, starting autumn 2016, the whole building will be available for teachers and students. When the renovations are completed, which is expected to be during early 2017, the number of study places and other facilities will have doubled.
Again, we are sorry for the inconvenience these renovations are causing, but we appreciate the students’ patience, and look forward to new teaching facilities and study places that will be available at Campus Gamla Torget in the beginning of 2017.
The students of the Master program joined the Peace Walk led by Professor Peter Wallensteen on January 27, 2016. It is a regular feature of the Master program since 2010, but Wallensteen says he has done this walk for the past ten years. "It started as a particular element in our international courses that were sponsored by Sida" he says. "It was appreciated, as a way of getting out of the class-room setting". He goes on to say: "It also demonstrates that Uppsala is a city in the world. World events affect us and visiting the peace memorials is one way to show this". The Peace Walk stops at the statue of Nathan Söderblom (see picture), the bust of Folke Bernadotte, the grave of Dag Hammarskjöld and Liberation, the monument to the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. The Nobel peace prize is one thread in Wallensteen's presentation.
One of the most pressing challenges on the contemporary agenda for peace and security is armed conflicts involving militant groups with self-proclaimed Islamist aspirations, such as IS (Islamic State) in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, we know surprisingly little about the conditions under which jihadist conflicts, partly or completely, may be resolved through peaceful means. In particular, there is a gap in peace and conflict research concerning if, how, and to what extent, our existing theories on conflict resolution are applicable to solve jihadist conflicts. This project sets out to fill this lacuna. The purpose is to explore the potential, as well as the limitations, for conflict resolution in these contexts by examining the research question: under what conditions are jihadist conflicts likely to be resolved?
In order to address this pertinent and highly complex research problem this project brings together peace and conflict scholars with scholars of religious studies in general and Islam in particular, and we expect to see important synergy effects by doing so. Drawing on this multidisciplinary expertise, the project seeks to develop a theoretical framework that focuses on 1) who the actors are, 2) the issues at stake, and 3) and the behavior of these actors. The project combines quantitative and qualitative research methods and analyzes and compares jihadist conflicts to other types of conflicts, and explores variations within jihadist conflicts. Projectleader is Professor Isak Svensson (isak.svenssonATTpcr.uu.se).