NSF Supports Research on Ending Civil Wars

Author: kroc.nd.edu

Kroc Institute researchers Erik Melander, John Darby, and Peter Wallensteen have received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a study of how third parties can help end civil wars and promote respect for human rights, reduced poverty, and social justice. A central aspect of this effort is the development of a database with details of all third-party peacemaking in armed conflicts that occurred between 1989 and 2008.  

Civil wars are by far the most widespread form of armed conflict, said Melander, a senior researcher at the Kroc Institute. Third-party “outsiders” — including prominent individuals, the United Nations, or religious organizations — often are involved in seeking to end such conflicts. The Kroc researchers will use a combination of case studies and statistical analyses to determine how to increase the success rate of these third parties in mediating and ending civil wars. 

“An important part of this project is concern for ‘quality peace,’” Melander said. “We don’t define peace as merely the absence of active fighting. The conditions for justice and human rights also need to be in place for the peace to be sustainable.”    

This project is an outgrowth of the Kroc Institute’s partnership with Uppsala University in Sweden. Melander is deputy director of the Uppsala University Conflict Data Program. Wallensteen, the Dag Hammarskjöld Professor in Uppsala’s Department of Peace and Conflict Research, is the Richard G. Starmann Sr. Research Professor of Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute. Darby is professor of comparative ethnic studies at the Kroc Institute.   

Contact: Erik Melander, (574) 631-0361, melander.3@nd.edu