NSF grant to support Kroc research on ending civil wars

Author: Joan Fallon

Erik Melander

A National Science Foundation grant to researchers Erik Melander, John Darby and Peter Wallensteen of the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies will support research on how third parties can help end civil wars and promote human rights and social justice. A central aspect of the study 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, according to 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. Using a combination of in-depth case studies and statistical analyses, the Kroc researchers will study ways to increase the success rate of 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. In addition to his position at Notre Dame, Melander is deputy director of the Uppsala University Conflict Data Program. Wallensteen, the Richard G. Starmann Sr. Research Professor of Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute, is the Dag Hammarskjöld Professor in Uppsala’s Department of Peace and Conflict Research. Darby is professor of comparative ethnic studies at the Kroc Institute.

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