Conflict & Development
The mission of the Conflict & Development team is to investigate the relationship between aid and conflict, but perhaps more importantly, the team analyzes the relationship between economic conditions in general and conflict. Previous research has produced correlations between these two concepts on the national level, the goal of the Conflict & Development team is to conduct sub-national analysis on the economic causes of conflict.
To fill this important gap in our knowledge, the Conflict and Development team is engaged in three broad tasks: data gathering, analysis, and dissemination of our findings in policy briefs, conference presentations, and blog postings. Our main focus is the relationship between natural resources and conflict, which has been hypothesized by many scholars as a causal one. In other words, on the national level, the evidence has often suggested that certain types of natural resources (diamonds for instance) not only enrich certain groups of people, but they also have a tendency to create conditions that instigate and perpetuate conflict. The team works to gather data on the sub-national location of both conflict and natural resources, in order to produce fine grained analyses of the causal impact that natural resources have on violence and discover whether the national-level hypothesis applies to the local level.
Over the past several years, the Conflict & Development team has produced a data set with geographic locations, quantities, and prices for all known natural resources in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and parts of South America over roughly the past ten years. This information has then been combined with several databases of conflict information (some of which has been compiled in past years by the Conflict & Development team) to produce a fine-grained analysis of the geographic relationship between the economic boon of natural resources and their possible conflict byproduct.
The team produces research briefs of key countries and regions to examine the particular relationship between the two within each. By analyzing Algeria, Egypt, and the DRC and bordering countries, our analysis shows that the connection between resources and conflict is a highly contextual one that is mediated through other factors like government capacity, the proximity of transportation facilities, the ease of crossing borders, co-ethnicity across international boundaries, and the extent to which the government relies on resource wealth to finance its normal operations. The team will continue to produce these reports and gather data at the same time, with the eventual goal of open sourcing the data. Both of these will assist the continual and necessary growth in our knowledge of the relationship between economics and conflict that deeply impacts so many regions of the world.