News Archive for 2009

J. David Singer, 1925-2009, Path-Breaking Peace Researcher 

Professor emeritus J. David Singer, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, died on December 28, 2009 following a car accident three months earlier. He was a path-breaking social scientist that gave new directions to research in world politics. He served as the President of the International Studies Association. Singer also played a role in the origins of the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. He is deeply missed at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research.

Singer served in the US Navy during and after the Second World War and was also an active world federalist, before going into academics. These experiences influenced his research. Following the lead of Quincy Wright and Pitirim Sorokin he asked why wars continued to break out and how the international system made this possible. Influenced be the behavioral and statistical revolutions in social science as well as general systems theory he launched the Correlates of War (COW) project in the mid-1960s. The purpose was to understand why a particular type of behavior, war, took place. Prudently he was not talking about ‘causes’ but ‘correlates’: finding the factors that appeared at the same time as or preceded the wars. He led an extensive data-gathering endeavor, which mapped the entire international system since the times of Napoleon with respect to military expenditures, demographic information, and alliances, to name but a few. New variables were continuously added to investigate the correlates of war. Determining which variables were potentially relevant required creative and innovative theorizing, something which Singer emphasized and made him open to new ideas. The project continues to this day, now lead by former Singer student Professor Paul Diehl, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

COW remains one of the grandest projects in international relations and peace research. Singer’s persistence, feistiness in defending the idea, industriousness in finding resources, and ability to recruit talented young researchers made COW central to the discipline and a model for how new insights could be generated.

J. David Singer visited Uppsala and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research for the first time in the summer of 1979 (see picture). At this time, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program was in its infancy. His visit and the ensuing discussions resulted not only in a refinement of the program, but also many personal exchanges between Uppsala and Ann Arbor. Singer’s last visit was to a major conference in 2001 which brought together a number of global data collection projects, all of which were in some sense off-springs of Singer’s original ambitions.

Along with the numerous articles, chapters and books on aspects of the Correlates of War project, Singer also elaborated on the ‘level of analysis’ problem (one of his most reproduced articles), arms control issues, UN affairs, and peace research in general. He constantly asked for rigor, evidence, and parsimonious language, demands that remain important.

It has been a privilege to have been exposed to the continuous intellectual challenges that J. David Singer raised to the research community. This brave and path-breaking scientist leaves us with a strong legacy.

Peter Wallensteen
Professor of Peace and Conflict Research
Director, Uppsala Conflict Data Program


States in Armed Conflict 2008 launched


On Friday 27th of November the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) launched the latest publication in its annual States in Armed Conflict series. States in Armed Conflict 2008 maps and analyses the number of armed conflicts, non-state conflicts and incidents of one-sided violence around the globe in 2008. In addition to the UCDP’s contributions to the Journal of Peace Research and the SIPRI Yearbook this year’s edition also contains a special feature on one-sided violence; Revisiting One-sided Violence – A Global and Regional Analysis. This paper, which is available as a PDF-file, analyses the global incidence of one-sided violence since 1989, compares regional disparities, and uses statistics to show what countries are specifically at risk of experiencing one-sided violence. 

The full report can be ordered by contacting the Department of Peace and Conflict Research. For more detailed information on the specific cases of organized violence in 2008, visit the UCDP Database.


Department Researchers Present Reports to the UN


Three Case Studies and one general report were successfully presented to the UN Mediation Support Unit of the UN Department of Political Affairs on November 19, 2009.

At a workshop in New York, entirely devoted to the Uppsala work, researchers Desirée Nilsson, Johan Brosché and Peter Wallensteen introduced the work of the Uppsala team which also has involved Roland Kostic and Mikael Eriksson. The presentation was well-attended and each report was well received.

The team has analyzed three peace agreements, Liberia, Sudan and Bosnia-Herzegovina from three separate angles: public security, power-sharing and reconciliation. A set of lessons learned has been distilled for each of the three cases. Together with the outcomes of the Uppsala workshop held in September this has resulted in 18 additional general recommendations ('the Uppsala recommendations').

The purpose of this research was to draw conclusions of general value for the work of the Mediation Support Unit. This Unit is a new body in the UN created to further peacemaking efforts of the UN Secretariat in conflict situations around the world. The Uppsala work was commissioned on a grant given to the UN by the government of Canada.


Major Norwegian Research Award goes to Partner of the Department, Professor Nils Petter Gleditsch, PRIO, Oslo

Wednesday evening, October 14, the internationally respected, previous President of the International Studies Association, Professor Nils Petter Gleditsch at PRIO, the international peace research institute in Oslo, Norway (PRIO), received the Möbius Prize. It is one of Norway’s most prestigious research awards, handed out by the Norwegian Research Council, once a year. Gleditsch was a Visiting Professor at the Department in Uppsala at several occasions during the 1990s.

"It is most wonderful and a very well deserved Prize! His stays in Uppsala resulted in deepened cooperation, not the least around the systematic collections of conflict data, which has been good for both milieus and for the international research community", says Professor Peter Wallensteen, old friend and colleague to Gleditsch. 

Gleditsch’ research has lately concerned the issues of Democratic Peace as well as natural resources and conflict. An important achievement is his commitment to the Journal of Peace Research. Under his leadership it has come to be a central journal in international peace research. Several researchers in the Department are engaged in its editorial committees, notably Associate Professors Mats Hammarström and Magnus Öberg. Research cooperation between the two milieus have blossomed in recent years.


Press Statement (9 October 2009):
Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama

The Department of Peace and Conflict Research notes that the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 has been awarded to President Barack Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Erik Noreen, Head of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, commented the decision of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, as follows: “This is an unexpected and courageous decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama, and we hope that he will continue his efforts to engage in and promote diplomacy and international cooperation, in particularly within the United Nations.”

"President Obama receives the prize for having created a new climate in international politics", says Professor Peter Wallensteen. Wallensteen states further: "There is no doubt that he has done just that, for instance through his speech to the Muslim world and his resort to diplomacy for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Research suggests that "climate" is important for the peaceful management and resolution of international conflict. In that respect, the prize to Obama rewards a pattern of behavior that it now is up to others leaders to follow, and that he himself hopefully can pursue in the two wars he has do deal with right now." Read Professor Peter Wallensteen's comment on Uppsala Nya Tidning "USA vaknade till nyheten." 

Last year's laureate Martti Ahtisaari received the Peace Prize for "his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts." One month before Mr Ahtisaari was announced to receive the Nobel Price, he received the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal in Uppsala. In a seminar with scholars from the Department and other experts Ahtisaari elaborated on his experiences as a mediator. The Department has had continuous relations with mediators and Nobel Laureates, notably Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan. Jan Eliasson, UN Mediator for Darfur 2007-08, was also a visting Professor with the Department.

The Department of Peace and Conflict Research, founded in 1971, conducts research in several major areas of peace and conflict studies. Moreover, it houses its own data collection program, the internationally renowned Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), which provides a unique freely and globally accessible dataset for frontline research around the world. Researchers at the department utilize a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, and amongst them can be found expertise on most regions of the world. This ensures that the research pursued contributes to academia as well as policymaking. It is a unique research environment and is internationally recognized as a leading institution in its field.


UN Workshop on UN Day of Peace

On September 21, 2009, the Department organized a workshop assessing the lessons learned from three major peace agreements: Bosnia, Liberia and Sudan. The Department researchers Roland Kostic, Desirée Nilsson and Johan Brosché presented studies on issues of reconciliation, security and power sharing where each case served to illustrate one of these aspects. The workshop included case experts as well as generalists from the UN, Sida and leading research milieus internationally and in Sweden. In the concluding session Peter Wallensteen, project leader, drew some general lessons, to be elaborated in a report by him and Mikael Eriksson, the chief organizer of the meeting. In November, the final report will be handed over to the UN Mediation Support Unit who has commissioned this study. The workshop was set so as to constitute an activity in the UN Day of International Peace. For more information contact Dr Mikael Eriksson,


Top thirty of 1400 applicants starting the Master programme in Peace and Conflict Studies

The first graduates from the two-year MA programme, together with Mats Hammarström after having defended their theses.

With the beginning of September over thirty new students started in the two-year Master programme at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research. In the last two years that the new two-year Master programme, which is in accordance to the EU Bologna reform process requirements, is offered at the Department the national and international reputation of the studies increased steadily.

In comparison to 2008 the number of applications received by the Department of Peace and Conflict Research doubled to over 1400 aspiring students, out of which the majority were international applicants. Anders Nilsson, who is Director of Studies at the Department, is very pleased with the development of the last years: “The number and quality of applications we received this year is reflecting the growing reputation of the Master programme in Uppsala. Although the feedback from recent graduate students illustrates the sound quality of education provided to students in this two year programme, we are working constantly on improving the quality of education.” “Our goal is to offer all students excellent teaching and cutting edge course contents,” says Nilsson.

The new students began with the course ‘Causes of Armed Conflicts’, taught by Professor Thomas Ohlson. Other Master students, which have started in 2008 are currently attending courses in International Negotiations, New Military and Non-Military Security Threats or doing Internships. In July 2009 the first group of two-year Master students graduated from the Department.


UCDP launches new datasets

The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) has now launched two new datasets for researchers and students. Firstly, the latest version of the UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset (1946-2008) is now available for downloading. This dataset was launched in conjunction with PRIO's 50th anniversary in Oslo. Secondly, the UCDP has announced the launchof its newest dataset; the Non-State Actor Dataset, which outlines the names, affiliations and activity of all non-state actors that have been recorded in UCDP datasets.


UCDP launches 2008 update at PRIO's 50th anniversary

Between the 5th and 12th of June the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, (PRIO) celebrated its 50th anniversary as a research institute. The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) - a long-time collaborator of PRIO's - visited the celebrations where the latest version of the UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset (1946-2008) was launched. The launch was followed by a seminar on the impact and uses of this dataset on armed conflicts, as well as the handing over from the UCDP to PRIO of a celebratory brochure that outlined the trends in armed conflicts since 1946 and developments in 2008.


Two Department Directors Get the Laurels

The former and the present Director of Studies received their Doctoral insignia at the University's annual promotion ceremony on May 29, 2009.

Dr Lisa Hultman defended her dissertation on May 31 last year. Titled Targeting the Unarmed. Startegic Rebel Violence in Civil War she defended her work in a disputation with Dr Scott Gates, Oslo, as the external examiner (opponent). She then served as Director of Studies at the Department.

Dr Anders Nilsson's dissertation on Dangerious Liasions. Why Ex-Combatants Return to Violence. Cases from the Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone was examined on December 19, 2008 with Prof. Joanna Spear, George Washington University as the opponent. Following this Dr Nilsson replaced Dr Hultman as Director of Studies.

On the picture they are seen together with Professor Peter Wallensteen.


TOPS Global 2009 successfully completed!

On May 6–15, participants from around the globe met in Uppsala for the Top-Level Seminar on Peace and Security (TOPS). The theme of this programme was Challenges to Durable Peace and ten different countries were represented in the programme to discuss issues pertaining to peace and security in conflict-ridden societies. The programme is financed by Sida.


NEW RESEARCH PROJECT- Peace Agreement Evaluation Project

In May 2008, the Government of Canada made a donation to the United Nation’s Mediation Support Unit’s (MSU) trust fund to support a project named “The Peace Agreement Evaluation Project” (PAEP). MSU later awarded Faculty members of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research to carry out this research assignment. The project is to be completed by the end of 2009.

The aim of this project aims to examine three Peace Processes in order to analyze notably successful or unsuccessful elements of these (cases included are: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liberia and Sudan). In essence, the project will seek to identify the qualities that tend to help promote sustainability of a peace processes and, conversely, those which tend to weaken them. The PAEP will seek to identify “lessons learned” from previous peace processes and help guide the United Nations and other peacemaking entities towards crafting more effective peace agreements. Recommendations will provide significant material for shaping MSU’s real-time advice given as part of support to United Nations and other partners working assisting to negotiate peace agreements. Project members include the following researchers: Mikael Eriksson (project leader), Professor Peter Wallensteen (scientific advisor), Dr. Desirée Nilsson, Dr. Roland Kostic and PhD Candidate Johan Brosché. 


The Democratization Project - Opportunities and Challenges

Democratization is a field where unexpected and sudden events have repeatedly challenged conventional wisdom. For example, who in the mid-1970s would have foreseen the democratization of Cambodia, Albania, South Africa or East Timor? Our current wave of democratization is complex and diverse and understanding it requires a variety of theoretical approaches.

Most of the literature on democracy assumes that it is the best form of government. Theoretical works on democratic transition and democratization have also emphasized the internal conflict resolution capacity of democracy. It has been reasoned that democracy reduces the likelihood of discrimination, especially of ethno-political minorities, and thus the possibility of political repression. However, the democratic peace theory has not been explicitly tested with reference to third world post-colonial states, where most internal violent conflicts take place. Certainly, there is a dearth of practical advice for policy makers on how to design and implement democratic levers that can make internal peace and stability endure in the South.

This volume, drawing among others on the work of six scholars from the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, contributes to identifying and understanding the challenges and opportunities of this democratization project to the peace and development of the world both at the domestic level in selected countries, trends in regions of the world, and in the global system of the post-Col War Era.


Researchers present findings at International Studies Association’s Convention

From 15 to 18 February a number of researchers from the Department joined the biggest annual event for academics in the field of international studies. This year the convention was held in New York, and thousands of researchers from around the world presented papers and participate in workshops and panel discussions.