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Natural resource wars in the shadow of the future: Explaining spatial dynamics of violence during civil war
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
Number of Authors: 22019 (English)In: Journal of Peace Research, ISSN 0022-3433, E-ISSN 1460-3578, Vol. 56, no 4, p. 499-513Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous studies on natural resources and civil wars find that the presence of natural resources increases both civil conflict risk and duration. At the same time, belligerents often cooperate over resource extraction, suggesting a temporal variation in the contest over this subnational space. This study argues that parties fight over natural resources primarily when they expect that the conflict is about to end, as the importance of controlling them increases in the post-conflict setting. In contrast, belligerents that anticipate a long war have incentives to avoid fighting near natural resources since excessive violence will hurt the extraction, trade, and subsequent taxation that provide conflict actors with income from the resource. We test our argument using yearly and monthly grid-cell-level data on African civil conflicts for the period 1989-2008 and find support for our expected spatial variation. Using whether negotiations are underway as an indicator about warring parties' expectations on conflict duration, we find that areas with natural resources in general experience less intense fighting than other areas, but during negotiations these very areas witness most of the violence. We further find that the spatial shift in violence occurs immediately when negotiations are opened. A series of difference-in-difference estimations show a visible shift of violence towards areas rich in natural resources in the first three months after parties have initiated talks. Our findings are relevant for scholarship on understanding and predicting the trajectories of micro-level civil conflict violence, and for policymakers seeking to prevent peace processes being derailed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 56, no 4, p. 499-513
Keywords [en]
civil war, conflict dynamics, disaggregated data, natural resources, peace processes
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170793DOI: 10.1177/0022343318821174ISI: 000474240300003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-170793DiVA, id: diva2:1338311
Available from: 2019-07-22 Created: 2019-07-22 Last updated: 2019-07-22Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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  • apa
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